DALLAS — Defensive lineman Torlan Pittman was suspended from the SMU football team Tuesday after his arrest on rape charges.
Pittman and another athlete, Sean Weatherford, are accused in the sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman that is alleged to have taken place last fall in Huntsville, Texas.
Pittman's mother and his attorney told News 8 they are both very upset he was kicked off the team, insisting he is innocent of the charges.
In handcuffs and on his way to processing at the Dallas County Jail, Pittman quietly defended his innocence Tuesday morning. He would only shake his head "no" when asked what happened on the night of the alleged assault.
Pittman's teammates are watching the events unfold in disbelief.
"I was kind of shocked and surprised," said Robert Mojica, a safety on the SMU squad and a friend of Pittman. He said the entire squad remains optimistic about the outcome of the case.
"He's innocent until proven guilty," Mojica said.
"I think its important that we look at both the girl's side in it and the guy's side just to make sure that we're making the right judgment call," said SMU sophomore Marielle Cheppel.
"I hope it's not true, and I hope that he didn't get kicked off the team for nothing," said Kevin Ashmos, a senior at SMU.
But with the charges so serious, SMU officials said they had no choice but to suspend Pittman indefinitely.
He and his childhood friend, Sean Curtis Weatherford, are charged with sexually assaulting a woman in September. Huntsville police said she had been drugged with prescription medications that were not prescribed to her.
"The way that they described it was that she was so intoxicated that she couldn't stand," said Huntsville police Detective Eric Scott. "He was just almost carrying her across the parking lot."
Pittman's attorney, Jim James, urged everyone involved to withhold judgment until all the facts are known.
"Whether its the Duke lacrosse team or somebody else, a lot of times that first impression is wrong, James said.
The Pittman family said they would vigorously defend the charges against Torlan.