Arrest warrant signed for Maurice Washington; Nebraska officials detail contact with investigators

Arrest warrant signed for Maurice Washington; Nebraska officials detail contact with investigators
Maurice Washington faces two charges in California. THE WORLD-HERALD

A judge in Santa Clara County, California, has signed a warrant seeking the arrest of Nebraska football player Maurice Washington, meaning that he must return to California to face two charges involving child pornography.

Also on Thursday, the athletic department issued a statement outlining when its officials were first contacted about Washington and when they knew specific details about the case pending in California.

Washington is accused of sending a former girlfriend a sex video of her, though he was not in the video and did not record it.

Washington is charged with felony possession of a video depicting a person under 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct and misdemeanor disorderly conduct for distributing the video without consent.

Washington’s attorney, John Ball, released a statement Thursday saying Washington will “continue to move forward with a self-surrender” and will voluntarily appear in court in California. Ball said a time frame for that first court appearance is still to be determined.

“We expected this, and were prepared for it,” Ball said. “… Mr. Washington will remain fully cooperative in this matter.”

The girl has told authorities that the sex act was forced . Ball, in his statement, reiterated that Washington “had absolutely nothing to do with the alleged sexual assault.”

“This is about two young people who were once boyfriend and girlfriend in the 8th grade, and their communications years later,” the statement says.

The athletic department said Thursday that on Sept. 13, University of Nebraska-Lincoln police informed department officials that the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office wanted to talk to Washington.

The police provided contact information for Jamie Vaughn, the executive associate athletic director for compliance, to the Attorney General’s Office. UNL police did not know the nature of the inquiry, the department said in a written statement.

That day, department officials said, Vaughn spoke with Ed Sexton, an investigator in the Attorney General’s Office.

Vaughn was told that the AG’s Office was cooperating with a California agency and that Sexton wished to speak to Washington on the agency’s behalf.

Sexton said Washington was not in any trouble in Nebraska and would not say whether Washington was the subject of the California agency’s inquiry or a witness to a matter being investigated, or anything about why the California agency wished to speak with Washington.

Vaughn said he would look into the possibility of arranging an interview.

Vaughn had no further conversations with the Attorney General’s Office, the athletic department said, and Washington retained an attorney.

“Following department protocol,” officials said, “Vaughn informed Bob Burton, Deputy Athletic Director-Chief of Staff, and Athletic Director Bill Moos of the conversation with the Nebraska Attorney General’s office.”

Football program staff then introduced Washington to Jon Bruning, a former Nebraska attorney general, who department officials said had “a long-standing friendship with Matt Davison, Associate Athletic Director-Football, and Head Coach Scott Frost preceding either’s employment at the University of Nebraska.”

Nebraska football staff were clear to both Bruning and Washington that Washington had to be treated as a normal client and billed appropriately, the department said.

Frost had subsequent communication with Bruning to determine whether the football program needed to be concerned with the issue or take any action, department officials said. Bruning did not share the nature of the inquiry “due to attorney-client privilege,” officials said, but said that it involved a text message from when Washington was in California and that he “doubted it would result in criminal charges.”

No additional details on the matter were provided to anyone in the athletic department, officials said, until a reporter from NBC Bay Area, Michael Bott, contacted the university on Feb. 8. Bott told officials that his TV station “will be reporting soon that a University of Nebraska football player is facing felony child pornography charges, as well as misdemeanor charges related to California’s ‘revenge porn’ statute.”

Later that day, officials said, Bott identified the player as Washington.

“This was the first time any reference to the nature of these charges was known to University officials,” the department said.

Department officials noted that Washington was not enrolled at UNL in March 2018, when he is accused of sending the video to his ex-girlfriend, and did not enroll until August.

Ex-Maurice Washington attorney Jon Bruning denies sharing details with UNL; Bill Moos says NU has nothing to hide

While multiple requests — from multiple investigators — piled up to interview Nebraska football player Maurice Washington about allegations that he’d sent a sexually explicit video to his ex-girlfriend, Washington’s first attorney told The World-Herald Wednesday that he’d never disclosed the nature of Washington’s case to NU’s athletic department members throughout last season.

Jon Bruning, the former Nebraska attorney general who represented Washington from mid-September to Feb. 8, said he did not share details of the allegations with the university because of attorney-client privilege. Documents recently filed in a California court also claim Washington rebuffed any request to talk about the case and told Bruning he was “befuddled” by the allegation that he’d sent a sexually explicit video of a minor to the girl two years after the video was taken.

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos, in an interview Wednesday, said that he hadn’t heard of the exact circumstances surrounding California authorities’ investigation into Washington until last Friday when KNTV — NBC Bay Area — requested comment from NU’s athletic department for its story that eventually hit the Internet on Monday.

“We knew that there was some questions and things that the folks in California were asking about — but they weren’t specific,” Moos said. “I was made aware there were inquiries, but they were not specific.”

Washington faces two charges in Santa Clara County — a felony charge of possession of a video involving a child engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, and a misdemeanor charge of sharing that video without the person’s permission with the potential to cause emotional distress. He is accused of sending a 10-second sex video of a former girlfriend in March 2018.

California officials were still awaiting a judge’s signature on an arrest warrant as of Wednesday, said Clarissa Hamilton, the supervisor of the sexual assault unit in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Washington’s attorney has said his client will have to return to California at some point.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office has said it attempted to contact Washington by reaching the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department. Bruning, a former Nebraska attorney general, told an AG’s office investigator that he had represented Washington until Friday and Washington declined to comment.

Moos said he didn’t know how Bruning became Washington’s first lawyer, nor was Moos aware of any Nebraska officials asking Washington directly to talk to investigators in California. Moos said he’s met Bruning but doesn’t know him well.

From here, Moos said, NU “will cooperate with all of this.”

“We’re not trying to get away with anything,” Moos said.

Bruning said he had represented Washington until Friday, when a California reporter contacted him about pending child porn charges Washington faces. Bruning then referred Washington to Lincoln criminal defense attorney John Ball, Bruning said in an email.

However, Bruning told the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office that he was an attorney for the Nebraska athletic department, according to a statement the agency released Wednesday.

Bruning, in an email, disputed that, and said his client was only Washington.

“I’ve never represented the University of Nebraska as legal counsel, and I’ve never held myself out as doing so,” he said in an email. “Any assertion to the contrary is incorrect.”

Bruning did not respond to an email asking how his relationship as Washington’s attorney began.

“Out of respect for the process and Mr. Washington’s right to a fair trial, I won’t have anything else to say on the matter,” he said.

A spokesman for the athletic department didn’t respond to questions asking about Bruning’s communications with the university.

The investigation in California stretched from last March into the summer. California authorities then asked Ed Sexton, who works in the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, to help track down Washington for an interview.

According to court documents obtained by The World-Herald, Sexton tried to call Washington Sept. 10 — unsuccessfully — before receiving a text from Washington on Sept. 11 asking: “Who is this?” Sexton identified himself and requested a phone call. Washington didn’t make one.

Sexton then contacted the University of Nebraska-Lincoln police on Sept. 13 to request Washington’s contact information. Sexton received a call later that day from NU Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance Jamie Vaughn, who said he’d spoken to UNL police and to the Huskers’ football staff, “who were concerned about Washington needing a lawyer.”

Bruning contacted Sexton Sept. 14 and said — according to the investigative report — that he was representing NU’s athletic department. Sexton informed Bruning of the nature of Washington’s case.

On Sept. 19, the investigator in California, Colin Haselbach, received a call from Bruning, who’d spoken briefly to Washington about the case.

“Maurice told Mr. Bruning he did not know what Mr. Bruning was talking about and he was befuddled by it,” Haselbach wrote. He indicated to Bruning, again, his interest in either himself or Sexton interviewing Washington.

Washington never gave the interview. On Dec. 14, Bruning received copies of the search warrant documents.

Washington is a “good kid,” Moos said, who went through “tough, tough times in high school.” Washington narrowly academically qualified for NCAA eligibility, but, Moos said, has performed strongly in school thus far. Moos said Washington has been “honest” and “forthcoming” since the allegations were made public.

“We’ve got to let the legal piece take care of itself and try and monitor it as best we can,” Moos said. “We’re very much cooperative with what they’re asking. We take it very seriously — the entire university has been involved and our legal counsel. The president’s office, the chancellor’s office and certainly here. We’ve got to watch how it pans out.”

World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Timeline details Maurice Washington investigation and when Nebraska became aware of it

This timeline of events in the Maurice Washington investigation is based on allegations outlined in court documents, investigator reports and officials’ statements.

March 2016: A 10-second video is taken of a 15-year-old California girl performing oral sex on a teen in the back of an SUV while another teen masturbates. The girl has told authorities that the sex act was forced and that she was sexually assaulted. Maurice Washington, who formerly dated the girl, was not in the video and did not record the video — he was not present.

Feb. 7, 2018: Washington signs to play football for Nebraska.

March 2, 2018: After exchanging messages with his former girlfriend, Washington sends the 10-second video to her with the message, “Remember this hoe.”

The girl’s mother sees the text, tells her daughter not to watch the video and reports it to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

March 14, 2018: Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Colin Haselbach meets with the girl’s mother to get a copy of the video and review the communication between Washington and the girl.

March 19, 2018: Haselbach files a search warrant to Apple Inc. for the digital messages and video.

Summer 2018: Washington, having been expelled from Trinity Christian School in Texas, returns to California, where he works on getting eligible to play football while working at a sports bar.

Aug. 1, 2018: Washington learns the NCAA has cleared him academically, allowing him to enroll at Nebraska and begin playing football. Washington arrived in Lincoln the next day.

August 28-29, 2018: Haselbach, the Santa Clara deputy, attempts to call Washington multiple times, but no one answers the phone and the deputy is unable to leave a voicemail.

August 29, 2018: Haselbach contacts Ed Sexton, an Internet crimes investigator with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, to ask for help in contacting Washington.

Sept. 8, 2018: Washington plays in his first game as a Husker. He runs for 34 yards on eight carries and makes two catches for 16 yards against Colorado.

Sept. 10, 2018: Haselbach gives Sexton details of the case.

Sept 10-11, 2018: Sexton tries to call and text Washington multiple times but is unsuccessful. Washington responds, “Who is this” to one text, and Sexton replies that he is with law enforcement and would like to speak to him. He gets no reply.

Sept. 12, 2018: Sexton texts Washington: “I still need a call. This won’t go away.”

Sept. 13, 2018: Sexton texts Washington: “Please call … I’d prefer to handle this between us but if I need to involve AD I will.”

Sexton contacts the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department seeking to confirm Washington’s contact information. Police provide Washington’s contact information to Sexton and Sexton’s information to the athletic department.

Later that day, Jamie Vaughn, the NU assistant athletic director of compliance, calls Sexton to say he had spoken to Husker football staff, who were concerned about Washington needing a lawyer. Vaughn says he would try to set up a time for Washington to meet with Sexton.

Vaughn informs Bob Burton, deputy athletic director/chief of staff, and Athletic Director Bill Moos of the conversation with Sexton.

The football staff introduces Washington to Jon Bruning, a former Nebraska attorney general, Husker booster and longtime friend to Matt Davison, the associate athletic director of football, and coach Scott Frost.

(At some point, Frost asks Bruning whether the football staff should be concerned about the investigation. Bruning does not reveal details of the nature of the inquiry but says it involved a text message when Washington was in California. Bruning tells Frost he doubted it would result in criminal charges.)

Sept. 14, 2018: Bruning calls Sexton and says he was contacted by the athletic department about Washington and represented the athletic department. Sexton tells Bruning about the case and Bruning says he would speak with Washington and his coaches to see if an interview could be set up. (Bruning has denied that he ever purported to represent the university or the athletic department.)

Sexton never receives any phone calls from Washington and does not interview him.

Sept. 19, 2018: Bruning calls Haselbach and Sexton and says he was contacted by the athletic department to represent Washington. Bruning says he spoke to Washington about the case and Washington says he was befuddled by it and would never send a video of a sexual nature to an underage girl. Haselbach repeats his request to interview Washington.

Dec. 7, 2018: Haselbach speaks to the girl and her mother again to get more information about the alleged 2016 assault and the 2018 text with Washington. The girl says Washington had threatened to send the video six months after they had broken up. She also says she felt angry, terrified and scared that he had sent her the video.

Dec. 14, 2018: Haselbach, the deputy, has not heard from Bruning since their last call in September. He sends Bruning copies of the search warrants and leaves a message with his office.

Bruning returns the call and said he would let Haselbach know about an interview after he reviews the search warrants and speaks with Washington.

Dec. 17, 2018: The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office files a request for an arrest warrant for Washington, charging him with felony distribution of child pornography. He also is charged with sharing said material without the person’s permission and with the potential to cause emotional distress. That charge is a misdemeanor.

Feb. 8, 2019: Clarissa Hamilton, the supervisor of the sexual assault unit in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, last speaks to Bruning, who said he was representing Washington.

Bruning says he learned from a reporter that charges against Washington were pending, so he referred Washington to John Ball, a Lincoln criminal defense attorney. Ball contacts Hamilton three days later to say he is now representing Washington.

Moos says he learns of the exact circumstances surrounding the investigation into Washington after a California TV station requests comment from the Nebraska athletic department.

The reporter told the university that Washington was facing felony child pornography charges and a misdemeanor charge. University officials have said that this was the first time any reference to the nature of the charges was known to them.

Feb. 11, 2019: The World-Herald confirms that charges had been filed against Washington and an arrest warrant is awaiting a judge’s approval.

The Nebraska Athletic Department releases a statement saying it knew in the fall “that officials in California were interested in interviewing Maurice Washington about a prior incident.” The statement says details were not shared and there was no additional follow-up with the athletic department. The department says it would “continue to monitor this ongoing legal process.”

Ball, Washington’s attorney, releases a statement saying Washington will “continue to be fully cooperative with the authorities” and they are “in the process of making arrangements to move forward and resolve this matter.”

Feb. 12, 2019: Moos discusses Washington during a radio interview. He says the athletic department was “inquisitive” upon learning of the situation but “there wasn’t a lot of conversation that went any further than, ‘We have a concern and something happened in California and we’ll keep you informed.’ That’s how it panned out. … We want to make sure Maurice is cooperating — which he is. We also want to make sure he knows he has a great deal of support.”

Feb. 14, 2019: A judge in Santa Clara County, California, signs a warrant seeking the arrest of Washington, meaning he will officially have to return to California to face two charges involving child pornography.

The Nebraska Athletic Department provides its most detailed statement yet of the Washington matter with The World-Herald.