USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was arrested in April on suspicion of sexual assault, will not be charged because of insufficient evidence, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced Friday.
Sanchez, 19, was arrested at the Cardinal Gardens apartment complex near campus April 26 after a female USC student told police that he had sexually assaulted her. He has been free on $200,000 bail.
"From the outset of this investigation, I've been confident that the facts would come to light and that investigators would confirm that I was innocent of the allegation against me," Sanchez said in a statement released by USC. "I am grateful to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office and the LAPD detectives for their diligence in pursuing the truth and taking the time necessary to make the right decision. I also would like to thank my family, my fellow players, our coaching staff, the USC family and all of the people that stood by me during this very difficult time.
"I look forward to continuing my education at USC and being a positive contributor to our school, student body and team."
Sanchez, a redshirt freshman from Mission Viejo, took most of the snaps during spring practice after junior John David Booty suffered a back injury that required surgery.
USC put Sanchez on interim suspension after his arrest but allowed him to complete his finals. He has been attending summer session classes, but he had not been allowed to participate in team workouts or meetings.
Coach Pete Carroll said he was happy that Sanchez was exonerated but lamented that the process held him up to public scrutiny.
"An accusation like this is so damaging, because opinions are formed before all the facts are in," Carroll said in a statement. "His actions always have been exemplary, and I know they'll continue to be so in the future. ... Mark regretted that this situation reflected poorly on him, his family and his teammates. I know he'll work hard to put this behind him. He can now concentrate on his schoolwork and on preparing to compete for the quarterback job in the fall."
Sanchez is the second Trojan football player in a little more than a year not to be charged after being arrested on suspicion of felony sexual assault. In April 2005, the district attorney's office announced it would not file sex or drug-related charges against former cornerback Eric Wright because of insufficient evidence.
Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said the Sanchez investigation would not be reviewed for action as a possible misdemeanor case. An athletic department official said USC's Office of Student Affairs is expected to inform Sanchez that he has been reinstated.
Carroll said any team discipline stemming from allegations of underage drinking and allegations of use of a fake ID by Sanchez on the night of the alleged incident would be handled internally.
Helen Grieco, executive director of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women, wrote a letter to USC President Steven Sample and Carroll last month that called for the university to crack down on players' off-the-field behavior.
Informed of the district attorney's decision Friday, Grieco said she did not want to be "an armchair quarterback," because she did not know details.
"Given the incident level at that university, our message still stands: We want them to work seriously on prevention and a message of no tolerance," Grieco said. "I'm still very strong with my message to the university that we are still going to watch them."
According to the district attorney's charge evaluation worksheet, prosecutors were considering a charge of rape. The report said that the alleged victim was a 19-year-old USC student and that the allegation "cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
Richard Taklender, a deputy district attorney, wrote that "the case is essentially a one-on-one allegation," and that medical exams on Sanchez and the woman were "reviewed and found to be inconclusive on the issue of force."
According to the worksheet, the woman said she was willingly "making out" in bed with Sanchez while not fully clothed, but that she did not want to have intercourse.
The report also said that another couple in the apartment were unaware of a problem and that Sanchez's accuser later spent about 20 minutes with the couple and "did nothing to convey through words or conduct that she had been assaulted."
Senior linebacker Dallas Sartz said the situation reinforced Carroll's warnings to players.
"It definitely teaches you a lesson," Sartz said. "You have to take note and keep that in the back of your head."