Attorney says woman accusing NFL prospect of rape did not know he was an athlete

Attorney: Woman accusing NFL prospect of rape did not know he was an athlete

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - An attorney representing the woman accusing a top NFL prospect of raping her at a downtown Cleveland hotel says his client had no idea who the player was and had never met him before.

The woman said she was sexually assaulted by the player she'd just met at the Westin Hotel nearly three weeks ago.

Cleveland 19 doesn't normally identify someone who hasn't been charged with a crime, but in this case, Gareon Conley has now put out a statement saying these accusations are false.

Attorney Joe Ritzler says his client isn't doing well at all.

"This type of crime is the worst type of crime," he said. "They can be perpetrated on any woman out there."

He says his client, who Cleveland 19 is not naming because she's a possible sex assault victim, was downtown for a going away party.

The police report says she met a man in the hotel elevator and went back to his room. The police report uses Conley's name several times, but not because the victim identified him.

Conley is a former Ohio State football player, though Ritzler said his client had no idea who he was or that he was an athlete about to be drafted into the NFL.

"She did not know who this individual was, had never met this individual before," Ritzler said.

Conley's attorney says he has three witnesses, who are friends of Conley, that say he never touched her. But Ritzler said the young woman is sticking to her claim that she was assaulted.

"My client absolutely stands by the fact that on the evening in question she was sexually assaulted," the attorney said.

As if dealing with the trauma of sexual assault isn't hard enough, one of the factors that has Ritzler and his client extremely upset is the player's attorney has already come out and said she's an opportunist before even reading the police report.

"Honestly, that is the only reason why we are coming forward today is because those type of comments," Ritzler said. "I can tell you those comments are made by an individual who does not know my client."

It took 16 days for Cleveland police to release even an initial report, which is unusual. When it was given to Cleveland 19, the alleged victim's name and phone number were on it.

"I can tell you that is a highly unusual situation -- it is not common for these areas," Ritzler said.

Cleveland 19 asked Ritzler if the young woman would be willing to testify if charges are ever filed -- a lot of times cases can hinge on that. He said that decision will be made at that time in conjunction with the prosecutor.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Cleveland 19 does not name alleged victims in police reports. Cleveland 19 normally does not name people in police reports who are not charged with a crime, but because Conley released the statement himself on the issue his name is included in this story.

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