With arrest warrant pending, California sheriff says Maurice Washington ‘should be held accountable’ if guilty

With arrest warrant pending, California sheriff says Maurice Washington ‘should be held accountable’ if guilty
Maurice Washington faces two charges in California. THE WORLD-HERALD

Officials are still working out logistics for a Nebraska running back to return to California to face two charges accusing him of sending a sex video to an ex-girlfriend.

Maurice Washington, 19, is accused of texting a video of an alleged sexual assault from 2016 of a former girlfriend to the same girl two years later, after his sexual advances were denied.

Authorities are not alleging that Washington is in the video or recorded the video.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has filed two charges against Washington but is waiting for a judge to sign a warrant, which had been given to the judge in mid-December.

The charges accuse Washington of possessing a video involving a child engaging in or simulating sexual conduct, a felony, and sharing that video without the person’s permission and with the potential to cause emotional distress, a misdemeanor.

Clarissa Hamilton, the supervisor of the sexual assault unit in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, said that once the judge approves the warrant, Washington could be extradited to California or return voluntarily. She hopes the judge will sign the warrant soon.

“Cases are fluid and we are always ready and willing to look at any evidence the defendant may wish to share,” she said in an email.

John Ball, a Lincoln attorney representing Washington, said his client will have to return to California at some point. He said the arrangements for Washington to go are still being figured out.

He declined to go into detail about the next steps in the case, other than to say that a jury trial or a plea agreement are both possibilities.

If convicted, Washington could face up to a year in jail, Hamilton said, although other punishments avoiding jail are possible.

Ball on Monday said Washington has confidence in due process and the presumption of innocence.

“The communications between these two young people are yet to be fully determined, and there are additional facts and circumstances that give context and perspective to this situation,” Ball has said.

A search warrant affidavit obtained by The World-Herald detailed Washington’s communications with the girl before he sent her the explicit video.

Washington and the girl had dated in eighth and ninth grades, but had begun speaking again in 2018 on Instagram after the girl, then 17, congratulated him about going to Nebraska to play football.

The conversations turned sexual, the affidavit said, and Washington made sexual advances toward the girl. When she told him she wasn’t interested in a romantic relationship with him, he became “increasingly aggressive in his communication,” the affidavit said, and became “angry and mean.”

The girl blocked him on Instagram.

On March 2, about 8:43 a.m., the girl received a text message from Washington from a number that was later found to be registered to Washington’s adoptive father, the document says.

The text contained a 10-second video of a girl performing oral sex on one teen in the back seat of a vehicle, with another teen masturbating while watching her naked behind.

“Remember this hoe,” the text from Washington said, according to the affidavit.

The girl’s mother was able to see all of her daughter’s texts through an iPad, and she immediately told the girl not to look at the video because she believed it was a video of the alleged 2016 sexual assault.

About six hours later, the girl wrote back to Washington: “Send me that again I didn’t see it. Maurice?”

Washington replied, “Send you what”

The girl said, “That video”

He said, “You seen it”

She responded: “I Didn’t tho”

He said: “Oh I didn’t send nun”

A deputy with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office requested cellphone records from Apple Inc. on March 19 after speaking with the girl’s mother and viewing the video and texts.

The Nebraska athletic department said in a statement Monday that it had been contacted by the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Police Department regarding the investigation.

“Last fall we were … made aware that officials in California were interested in interviewing Maurice Washington about a prior incident,” the athletic department statement read. “Details were not shared and there was no additional follow-up with the Nebraska Athletic Department. Recently, we were made aware that charges may be filed against Maurice in California. We have not had a chance to review the charges, and will continue to monitor this ongoing legal process.”

Athletic Director Bill Moos said Tuesday during a radio interview that Nebraska was “inquisitive” upon learning of the situation involving Washington 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.”

Moos said Washington is “cooperating” with authorities in California.

“Obviously we’re looking into it every way we can, but it’s a legal matter,” Moos said. “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. And then really the legal authorities and the whole system kind of guides it from here on out.”

Suzanne Gage, spokeswoman for the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, said Tuesday that the office was contacted in August by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office seeking information about Washington.

An Attorney General’s Office investigator contacted the University of Nebraska — Gage didn’t specify who at NU was called — then received contact information for Washington and made multiple phone calls to him, Gage said.

A university spokeswoman said the Attorney General’s Office called UNL police “requesting a point of contact for Athletics to contact a football player.”

“The contact information for Athletics and the Attorney General’s Office were provided to each,” the spokeswoman said. “The nature of the inquiry was not known at that time.”

Sometime in mid-September, the attorney’s general’s investigator received a call from Jon Bruning, a former Nebraska attorney general. Bruning at the time told the investigator that he represented Washington and that Washington declined to comment.

Bruning could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Tuesday saying that if Washington is guilty, “it is deeply disturbing and he should be held accountable.

“Our community’s youth must understand the profound (effect) and trauma associated with leveraging potentially embarrassing content from social media outlets to intimidate, bully and hurt others,” Sheriff Laurie Smith said.

World-Herald staff writer Sam McKewon contributed to this report.