Former Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson and suspended Volunteers defensive back Michael Williams each pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of aggravated rape.
Johnson and Williams were arraigned Monday in Knox County Criminal Court, per the Knoxville News-Sentinel, having been indicted by a grand jury Feb. 12 on charges they raped a 19-year-old Tennessee student in Johnson’s off-campus apartment last November. Both players turned themselves into police and were released on $40,000 bonds last month.
Johnson’s and Williams’ trial was set for Aug. 24. Each is charged with two counts of aggravated rape. Per the News-Sentinel, the indictment claims each “aided and abetted” the other in the act of committing the alleged rape.
As he and Johnson’s attorney have since the indictment, Williams’ attorney David Eldridge repeated that his client is innocent.
“What I’ve said before, I’ll say again,” Eldridge said, per the Associated Press. “He’s innocent of the charges and we will defend them in court.”
Both players were suspended from the Volunteers when the accusations surfaced in November with Johnson, a senior, leaving the program after receiving his degree from the university in December. His invite to the NFL draft combine was revoked following his indictment.
A 22-year-old from Laurel, Md., Williams remains enrolled at Tennessee. He started five games for the Volunteers in 2015.