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Former Illini basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. found not guilty of rape, sexual battery

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Illini basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. was found not guilty of rape and sexual battery in a Douglas County, Kansas court on Thursday.

After the verdict was read, Shannon hugged his attorneys and some of his supporters who were in the courtroom.  Some of them were wiping away tears.

The acquittal capped a tumultuous several months for the Lincoln Park High School graduate. After being charged, he was suspended from the University of Illinois men's basketball team for multiple games. He later sued the university and was reinstated to the team.

A star basketball player with top-tier NBA talent, Shannon led the Illini to the Big Ten Tournament and then an appearance in the Elite Eight in the NCAA basketball tournament this past season.

The allegations stemmed from September 2023 when Shannon went to Lawrence, Kansas, to attend the Kansas-Illinois football game.

Shannon's NBA future hung in the balance during the trial.  The NBA Draft will be held in two weeks. 

Shannon does not land on the top 14 picks of any major mock draft. However, those projections were based on the uncertainty of the trial. According to several NBA experts, he could be considered a first-round pick or an early second-round choice. 

Shannon took the stand in his own defense at the end of the trial. He testified that he had traveled to Lawrence for the game and met some Kansas players at the Jayhawk Cafe. 

He told jurors that he never saw the woman who accused him of rape and never groped her at the bar, according to reporters covering the trial. He also testified that he did drink that night but not to the point that he could not remember details of the evening. 

"I would never do anything like this," he testified.  

The jury deliberated for less than two hours. 

In a statement posted to social media on Friday, Shannon said, "Thank you to everyone who stood by me these last nine months. I knew I was innocent of these horrible crimes and I had faith in God that someday everyone else would know that too. I am so grateful to all of you for believing in me, especially my family, friends, and legal teams whose support kept me going. I'm ready to put this chapter of my life behind me and fully focus on my path forward."

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