Gerald Herbert/APPeyton Manning.A new witness has come forward saying he was in the looker room and saw the event at the heart of new sexual-assault allegations against Peyton Manning involving then-University of Tennessee trainer Jamie Naughright.
The witness said he saw Manning mooning a teammate and suggested he “thought nothing of it.”
In an interview with Robert Klemko for Peter King’s MMQB site, former University of Tennessee linebacker Greg Johnson, Manning’s former roommate, said he was in the training room and saw what took place during the incident.
Johnson, who is now a police officer, told a story that supports Manning’s version — that the quarterback pulled his shorts down in the direction of another athlete, Malcolm Saxon.
Johnson said he did not see any contact between Manning and Naughright. In a 2001 affidavit, Naughright alleges that Manning’s “gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles. and the area in between the testicles” were in contact with her face.
“Saxon walks in, and Peyton was the kind of guy who had to be friendly with everyone; he wanted to include everyone, from his teammates to the cross country guy,” Johnson told Klemko. “He says hey to Saxon and pulls down the back of his shorts, and I saw one butt cheek, and then he pulled his pants up. And Jamie said something like, ‘Aw, you’re an ass.’ Then I left. Thought nothing of it.”
As noted by Klemko, this is similar to the description provided by Naughright during an employment-discrimination complaint filed against the University of Tennessee in 1996. In that affidavit, Naughright described several incidents, including one on February 29, 1996, the date of the alleged sexual assault:
“On February 29, 1996, while I was performing therapy on a student athlete, XXXX, he pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me, as I was bent over examining his foot after asking me several personal questions.”
However, court documents filed as part of a 2001 lawsuit paint a much more vulgar picture. Here was how Naughright described the incident in 2001:
Q. Let me be very clear there. It was not just his behind, his rear end, that was on your face, but his genitalia was on your face?
A. That’s correct. It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles. and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up and off. And it was like this and as I pushed him up to get leverage. I took my head out to push him up and off.
Q. And what, if anything, did Mr. Manning — withdrawn. Did you say anything or scream or as you felt this on the top of your head?
A. I pushed him off of me and I said, “You’re an ass.”
Q. Did you yell or scream or anything like that?
A. When he turned around and looked at me with the anger in his eyes that I saw, I did not want to get confrontational with him. I could see that anger and when I looked at [another student-athlete, Malcolm] Saxon he was just shocked. He had his mouth wide open and he was in shock. In disbelief.
Q. What did Mr. Manning say, if anything, to you after you told him he was an ass?
A. He had anger and he smirked and he laughed.
Johnson’s account also seemingly contradicted the only previous eyewitness account — that of Saxon, the cross-country runner that Manning alleges to have mooned. Included in the same paperwork filed for the 2001 court case, was a letter written by Saxon and addressed to Manning.
Saxon did not describe what he witnessed beyond saying Manning “dropped his drawers.” But the letter also said that Manning “messed up” and that his actions were “definitely inappropriate.” He finished by writing that Manning should “maintain some dignity and admit to what happened.”
Johnson was adamant that there was no physical contact between Manning and Naughright.
From Klemko’s interview:
Johnson says he saw no physical contact between Manning and Naughright while he was present. “It just didn’t happen,” he says. “Later someone in the administration asked me what happened. They asked if Peyton mooned somebody. They said you can’t do that with a female trainer present. Next thing I know, Peyton is banned from the chow hall. He took his punishment; as 20-year-olds we understood that you can’t do that.”
Johnson says he was not asked to give his side of the incident in 2001, as he was overseas at the time.