MADISON, Wis. -- A judge ordered Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus to stand trial Tuesday on charges that he sexually assaulted two drunken women this spring, rejecting a motion from his attorneys to dismiss one of the counts alleging that the women weren't as impaired as investigators say.
Prosecutors charged Cephus in August with second- and third-degree sexual assault, both of which are felonies. The second-degree charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. According to a criminal complaint, Cephus sexually assaulted two drunken women at once in the bedroom of his apartment in April.
Cephus, a 6-foot-1 junior from Macon, Georgia, has said the sex was consensual and denied any wrongdoing. He attended the hearing but did not testify. Afterward, he told reporters he was innocent and doing "great."
"I know the truth, they know the truth," Cephus said, standing in front of about a dozen supporters. "I look forward to clearing my name and fighting for who I am."
His attorney, Stephen Meyer, pledged a vigorous defense at trial.
"Every point, every legal issue, will be argued and pursued until this guy walks home free," he said, standing next to Cephus.
Meyer argued at Tuesday's hearing that the second-degree sexual assault charge should be dismissed because the woman linked to that count wasn't drunk and parted with Cephus on good terms. Meyer said that surveillance camera footage shows the woman walking down stairs in the apartment building without any difficulty after the alleged assaults supposedly took place. The footage also shows the second woman talking with Cephus at the apartment door in what appears to be normal conversation, Meyer said.
He also pointed to a text message one of the women sent to Cephus hours after the alleged assault asking him to look for a vaping device she left at the apartment. She closed the text with a heart and a kiss emoji, signaling she was interested in seeing Cephus again, Meyer argued in court filings.
But Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky refused to drop the charge, saying there was enough other evidence in the complaint to support it. She ordered the case to trial after testimony only from Madison police detective Julie Johnson, who interviewed both Cephus and one of the alleged victims.
Johnson testified that the woman said that she did not give Cephus consent to have sex with her. Johnson also said the woman told her she was drunk but Cephus refused a drink because he was driving.
Cephus was suspended indefinitely from the Badgers and did not play in either of the team's first two games. According to the criminal complaint, Cephus' roommate, fellow receiver Danny Davis, was present during the assaults and took photos of the women. He hasn't been charged but he was suspended for Wisconsin's first two games. He is eligible to return for the game Saturday against BYU.
Cephus amassed 501 yards receiving last season and led the Badgers with six touchdown catches despite breaking his right leg last November. Davis, a sophomore from Springfield, Ohio, caught 26 passes for 418 yards and five touchdowns last season.