A Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman who was accused of rape and kidnapping was found not guilty on Friday by a jury in Guernsey County, Ohio.
The lineman, Joshua Sills, 25, was indicted in February on first-degree felony counts of kidnapping and rape stemming from an episode in December 2019, when, prosecutors said, Sills allegedly “engaged in sexual activity that was not consensual and held a victim against her will.”
The jury reached its decision after a trial that began on Tuesday. The case was presented by prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“Thank you for everything you have done,” Sills said, addressing the jury in the courthouse on Friday in a trial that was televised.
Michael Connick, a lawyer for Sills, said on Friday that the acquittal ended a “four-year nightmare for the Sills family.”
The Ohio attorney general, Dave Yost, said in a statement on Friday that “I still believe the victim.”
“But in America, criminal convictions require proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Yost said. “The jury did not see it, and I thank them for doing their duty under the law.”
The trial included testimony from Brooke Bing, a friend of the woman who accused Sills, who recalled being out at a bar one night with a group that included Sills.
After the night out, Bing said she talked to the woman who accused Sills, who told her that, “Josh raped her,” referring to Sills.
“She tried hard to fight back,” Bing said. “She showed me the marks from where his hands were holding her down.”
After the indictment in early February, Sills was issued a summons to appear in court on Feb. 16, four days after the Eagles were scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz.
Sills was signed by the Eagles in 2022 as an undrafted free agent. As of Friday afternoon, he was listed on the N.F.L. commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he could not play with the team.
It was not immediately clear on Friday if Sills would play after his acquittal. Executives in the front office for the Philadelphia Eagles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sills, an offensive guard, appeared briefly in one game on special teams for the Eagles in 2022.
He spent the first four years of his college football career at West Virginia University before transferring to Oklahoma State University.
Jesus Jiménez is a general assignment reporter. More about Jesus Jiménez
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