Missouri senior running back Derrick Washington has been charged with sexual assault, according to the Associated Press.
Washington, 21, has been charged with a single count of deviant sexual assault, Boone County prosecutor Andrea Hayes told the AP. Under Missouri law, deviant sexual assault is a Class C felony.
Washington's bond has been set at $4,500. Per Missouri's athletic department policy, any player accused of a felony is not allowed to rejoin the team until the issue is resolved.
Hayes confirmed the report to the Columbia Daily Tribune, adding that a court date will not be set until Washington either is arrested or turns himself in to authorities.
Regardless of whether he is convicted, Washington, a native of Raymore, Mo., now faces the prospect of spending significant time as a spectator in 2010, a season in which he was expected to be one of the few proven leaders on a young Missouri offense.
If there's a silver lining for Washington, it's that a plea bargain appears to be a reasonable possibility, though doing so would be likely interpreted as an admission of guilt.
On Friday, two sources close to the situation told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there have been discussions between the two parties regarding a plea bargain, which would lessen the charge to a misdemeanor.
The Tigers' leading rusher each of the past two seasons, Washington was reportedly one of the team's more impressive performers during preseason practices. Thanks to an improved diet in the offseason, Washington shed more than 10 pounds off his playing weight of 2009, when he ran for a career-low 865 yards as Missouri's featured running back.
Behind Washington, Missouri has talent but little experience. The presumptive No. 1 back come MU's season opener on Saturday will be sophomore Kendial Lawrence, who saw limited action as a true freshman in 2009. Splitting a majority of the time with Lawrence will be junior De'Vion Moore, whose elder status and game experience are offset by his inability to stay healthy.
Moore, a native of St. Louis, Mo., has been held out of much of preseason camp, first with a concussion and most recently with ankle/foot problems.
Missouri's other options include a pair of talented true freshmen, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy. On his weekly Monday teleconference, Pinkel targeted the backs as two of at least five true freshmen that will see the field this season. Josey and Murphy are listed third and fourth, respectively, on Missouri's most recent depth chart, released Monday morning.
Lawrence and Moore are listed as co-starters.
Washington, a team co-captain, was suspended indefinitely by head coach Gary Pinkel last week while city prosecutors investigated a claim made by Washington's former tutor that he sexually assaulted her in June. Following the incident, the alleged victim placed a protection order on Washington.
When news broke of the allegations against Washington, Missouri athletics director Mike Alden told several media outlets that he had been aware of the situation "for a few weeks." On Friday, Alden issued a statement to the Columbia Daily Tribune saying that the decision to suspend Washington could only be made after school officials had "enough information to reach a conclusion on disciplinary action."
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