‘Lock That Girl Up!’: Fans Demand Justice for Ex-Illini Star Terrence Shannon Jr. After Alleged Rape Victim Joked ‘Got His A—’ with Money Emojis

Former University of Illinois college basketball star Terrence Shannon Jr. was found not guilty on charges of rape and aggravated sexual battery by a Kansas jury on June 13 following a weeklong trial. Now fans want Shannon’s accuser to face repercussions.

Shannon, 23, was accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in September at the Martini Room, a bar near the University of Kansas campus.

Shannon attended a Kansas-Illinois football game on Sept. 8. The unidentified woman told police a man at the bar pulled her over to him and groped her in the early morning hours of Sept. 9. She accused the suspect of grabbing her buttocks, reaching under her skirt and penetrating her with his fingers shortly after they met.

A few months later, Shannon learned he would face criminal charges. He was arrested in December after the woman identified him from his Illinois basketball team photo, which was easily accessible online. Shannon was charged with  “unlawfully, feloniously, and knowingly [engaging] in sexual intercourse with a person … who did not consent to the sexual intercourse under circumstances when she was overcome by force or fear, a severity level 1 person felony.”

Terrence Shannon Jr. #0 of the Illinois Fighting Illini found not guilty.
Terrence Shannon Jr. the Illinois Fighting Illini reacts after being defeated by the Connecticut Huskies the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at TD Garden on March 30, 2024, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

“I was definitely uncomfortable […]I don’t know why I didn’t [walk away]. But I wish I did,” the accuser said during the trial.

However, the basketball star consistently denied the allegations against him. “I never touched, grabbed, pulled over. … That did not happen,” Shannon told the jury once the trial started, per published reports.

Shortly after the arrest, the Illinois basketball team decided to suspend Shannon indefinitely and launched an independent probe of their own. The university eventually dropped its investigation due to what the school described as insufficient evidence. Shannon was allowed back on the court after retaining a temporary restraining order. He had already missed six games but still managed to lead Illinois to the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight before losing to national champion Connecticut.

Multiple witnesses, including a current Kansas Jayhawks basketball player, backed up Shannon’s account and said he did not witness the Illinois player acting inappropriately with the woman during the night in question.

Attorneys also said Shannon’s DNA was not recovered from the accuser’s body during an examination at the hospital and presented text messages from the alleged victim in a group chat with her friends where she shared the ESPN link of the basketball player’s arrest and her friends joked that she “Got his a—” along with money-face emojis.

Following the not-guilty verdict, Mark Sutter, one of Shannon’s attorneys, said, “We’re happy with the outcome. Terrence Shannon Jr. finally got his day in court. We denied the allegations back in September, and on that date, we pledged that one day soon, we would have our day in court, and we did. And we’re happy with the outcome. And, at the end of the day, I think the public at large owes Shannon Jr. an apology.”

Shannon released a statement saying he was now ready to move on from the situation and focus on his future.

“Thank you to everyone who stood by me these last nine months,” the statement read. “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 team whose support kept me going. I’m ready to put this chapter of my life behind me and fully focus on my path forward.”

The verdict sparked strong reactions on social media from many who felt there should be a “punishment” for false allegations.

“Shannon should not let this go. I would go after her for defamation and the prosecutor and police detectives for malicious prosecution,” one person suggested.

Another social media users expressed similar sentiments. “Anyone who falsely accuses someone of rape should be publicly shamed and incarcerated.”

“Now it’s time to lock that girl up and throw away the key,” tweeted a fan.

“People who bring false accusations against innocent people need to be held accountable and serve jail time themselves. I’m glad he won but the accuser needs to face some sort of punishment for what they did,” another person tweeted.

NBA superstar LeBron James also chimed and offered support for Shannon.

“To my Young (king) Terrance Shannon Jr! Love and Salute you! Proud of you!!,” James wrote. “God is Good! The apologies should be 30X louder than the hate he got but we know how it goes. Anyways back to the regular scheduled program. Great days ahead!”

Illinois coach Brad Underwood said he’s “thrilled for Terrence” and commended him for showing a “tremendous composure, maturity, and focus” in the months following the accusations.

Before the accusations surfaced, Shannon was projected to be a first-round draft selection. But Shannon’s attorney confirmed that he will work out with multiple teams as he continues to prepare for the draft.

Shannon traveled to Chicago in May for the NBA draft combine, where he expressed his eagerness to clear his name in court. “Looking forward to (my) day in court,” Shannon told reporters at the time.

The NBA draft is June 26. The Atlanta Hawks have the No. 1 pick.

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