CLEVELAND (AP) — An attorney is vowing an appeal for a woman found liable by a civil jury for malicious prosecution in a rape allegation she made against a former Ohio State football standout more than five years ago.
The woman’s attorney, Patrick Thomas, said his client “deserves justice and patiently waited for her day in court” in her lawsuit against Gareon Conley.
“At trial, a number of issues arose that we fully intend to address on appeal, and we will continue to fight for justice for the victim,” he said in an emailed statement Friday.
The accusation against Conley came shortly before the 2017 NFL draft, in which he had been projected to be a high first-round pick. The 23-year-old woman alleged that he had sexually assaulted her in a Cleveland hotel room. Conley’s attorney said the sex was consensual.
A grand jury in Cleveland declined to indict Conley on any of the possible charges according to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office, and he signed a four-year contract with the Oakland Raiders, who made him the 24th overall pick. The woman filed a lawsuit a year later, accusing him of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Conley sued her in a counterclaim, accusing her of malicious prosecution.
Cleveland.com reports that jurors sided with Conley earlier this month after a 10-day trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, finding that the woman had failed to show that he had assaulted her. Jurors ordered her to pay him attorneys fees and $300, the sum Conley had asked for, saying the case wasn't about money but about restoring his reputation.
Conley, currently a free agent while rehabbing from a 2020 injury, said in a statement on social media Monday that “after 5 1/2 long years” he was “grateful and relieved to finally be fully exonerated.”