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Thursday October 19th, 2017 12:41PM

No indictment for escort, staffer in Louisville sex scandal

By The Associated Press
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men's basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.

The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn't enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.

Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee, a staffer under coach Rick Pitino, had hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.

"Under Kentucky law, we can't prosecute someone just based on their statements," prosecutor Christie Foster said in a news conference. "We can't prosecute Miss Powell just based on this book. We have to have sufficient corroborating evidence to present to a jury, and in this case we just didn't feel that we have that."

The announcement by the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office comes as the school awaits discipline that is expected to be handed down by the NCAA in early June. Pitino has denied knowledge of the activities described in Powell's book and recently answered the NCAA's allegation that he failed to monitor McGee.

On Tuesday the coach declined to discuss his hearing with the NCAA that he described as "one of the most difficult days, and I don't want to relive any of those hours."

On Thursday, the Attorney's Office recommended no charges for Powell or McGee, and the grand jury agreed.

"Everything we thought initially based upon the book certainly raised concerns and needed to be reviewed, but just did not pan out," Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine said in the news conference.

Powell's lawyer, Larry Wilder of Jeffersonville, Indiana, praised Wine's office for thoroughly examining the evidence instead of rushing to judgment in the case that drew a lot of scrutiny to his client and the community.

"A prosecutor of lesser character might have tried to ramrod an indictment," Wilder told The Associated Press. "He didn't, and that says a lot about his character and professionalism."

Louisville has self-imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches. Athletics spokesman Kenny Klein said the school had no comment on the grand jury's decision.

Several investigations were launched after the October 2015 publication of Powell's book "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen." Powell wrote that McGee had paid her $10,000 for 22 shows from 2010-14 at the team's Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 to become an assistant coach at Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on administrative leave when the allegations surfaced. He eventually resigned from UMKC a couple of weeks later to fight the "false allegations" against him.

The Commonwealth Attorney's office release said that authorities were originally concerned that Powell had used underage girls — including her daughters — to entertain recruits before determining that none were used. The investigation then shifted toward charges of prostitution, unlawful transactions with a minor and other charges, the attorney wrote.

All of the women identified in the book denied having sexual contact with recruits or being paid for sex acts, the statement said. Though recruits revealed instances of sexual contact with unknown women, the statement added, none were able to identify of them or confirm that "McGee or anyone else" had paid them.

Wine also acknowledged that all of the recruits involved were at least 16 years old, the legal age of consent in Kentucky.

Wine added that while the NCAA can show there were violations, his office had to be able to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The attorney's office ultimately decided there wasn't enough corroborating evidence to recommend charges.

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