Jail time, heavy fines, university discipline possible
Online News Editor
Three VCU men’s soccer players accused of capturing a nonconsenting minor in the nude on camera are facing jail time and heavy fines after a Grand Jury indicted them on felony charges earlier this month.
Donovan Arias, Finnlay Wyatt and Bobby Hopper, all freshmen, are facing class-six felony charges for an incident that occurred on Nov. 2, 2013. The three were formally charged by a Richmond Grand Jury earlier this month. Their scheduled arraignment on Feb. 7 was continued until a later date, according to court records.
The students were also suspended from the soccer team and VCU is conducting an internal investigation, said VCU spokesperson Anne Buckley.
A former teammate of Wyatt’s who wished to remain anonymous said Wyatt and Hopper took a video of a 17-year-old girl who was nude at a party. Arias, who is roommates with both Wyatt and Hopper, also attended the party.
Rumors of the video spread throughout their dormitory and a resident assistant later contacted police, the former teammate said. The students allegedly did not know the girl was a minor, the former teammate said.
Under Virginia law, the unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of a minor is a Class 6 felony. If found guilty, the students could face up to five years in jail or pay up to $2,500.
“I think somebody was trying to play a prank on a suitemate, and what I hear is a young girl was filmed,” said Arias’ attorney John W. Luxton, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Bill Dinkin, Wyatt’s attorney, said he was recently retained by his client and could not clarify details surrounding the case. He refused to make any further further comment.
No record of the incident was reported by VCU Police Department in its daily incident log.
“While the cases work their way through the criminal justice system, VCU is pursuing internal investigations from both a student code of conduct standpoint and through federal Title IX avenues,” Buckley said in a statement. “Because of the ongoing internal investigation and court proceedings, we cannot comment further on this matter until it is adjudicated, except to say that VCU remains committed to an environment free of intimidation, harassment and discrimination.”
VCU student-athletes must abide by a supplemental code of conduct in addition to the VCU Code of Ethics, VCU Athletics’ Drug and Alcohol Policy and NCAA rules.
Violations of the code by student-athletes are usually dealt with privately, said VCU Athletics spokesperson Scott Day.
Disciplinary sanctions are conducted “independent of, and supplements of the university judicial process,” according to the code. It is the athletics director’s responsibility to verify accusations and follow through with sanctions for accused athletes.
Any act of hazing is specifically prohibited in the code, as well as disrespect, poor sportsmanship, gambling or bribery, poor academic performance and any other conduct unbecoming of a VCU student-athlete.
“It’s definitely right to be reported … we shouldn’t be covering up for those people,” said Dylan Boyer, a freshman sociology major. “I’m glad this was reported at all because something like this could have been swept up under the rug.”
The three students have not been removed from the VCU Athletics soccer roster. Hopper, a business student, is from Atlanta. He has no prior criminal record, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Arias, a criminal justice major, is from Fairfax, Va. He was convicted of trespassing on church or school property in March 2013, according to Fairfax County General District Court records. Wyatt is from Midlothian, Va. He was fined for speeding in 2013, according to Chesterfield County General District Court records.