It started with a phone call March 29. Two University of North Texas students, 33-year-old Brian Emerson Johnson and 23-year-old Derail Jarvis Green, called a female student to set up an appointment for paid sex. Unfortunately for them, the woman placed their call on speakerphone.
A University of North Texas resident assistant overheard the conversation and submitted an online report alleging sexual assault and promotion of prostitution at an off-campus location.
Police say Green and Johnson were part of a prostitution ring and arrested them in early May for organized criminal activity. Police documents obtained by the Dallas Observer reveal details of their investigation.
“During the call, Green and Johnson solicited the victim to engage in sexual acts in exchange for money,” UNT police reported in the April 28 arrest warrant affidavit. “Green and Johnson explained to the victim the amount of money that could be charged, as well as their ability to find professional clientele.”
Green and Johnson lived off campus in an apartment with two other men, including their 20-year-old former teammate, Ricky Lynn Brice Jr. When police searched their apartment April 6 and discovered a “bag” of marijuana in the common area, Brice and Green were charged with possession of marijuana. Green was also charged with possession of dangerous drugs when police found two types of muscle relaxers in his room.
UNT campus police interviewed Johnson on April 25, and he admitted he had made the phone call that led the resident assistant to file a report. They also discovered that this phone call incident wasn’t the only time Johnson claimed he had made arrangements for clients to engage in sexual acts for money.
Police say the duo's clientele included 42-year-old Marlon Andre Terry, the assistant basketball coach at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. He was arrested May 11 for engaging in organized crime involving prostitution.
It’s unclear how Green and Johnson know Terry, who was an assistant coach at Nicholls State for one season before he resigned in early May. He also coached teams at Angelina Junior College and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, the University of Montevallo and the University of Texas at El Paso.
"Marlon is an accomplished recruiter and is a welcome addition to our staff," Maryland Eastern Shore's head basketball coach Frankie Allen said on the university's website. "He will work diligently with all components of the program, including instruction and academics. He has strong ties with the Texas junior college circuit and his original hometown of Philadelphia, and is an all-around good person."
UNT campus police didn’t report whether Johnson provided clients’ names, but his cellphone records confirmed Terry was one of the clients, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
Terry had taken a second female to an off-campus location where she performed sexual acts in exchange for money, UNT campus police reported. It is unclear why the second female is considered a victim rather than an accomplice. The arrest warrant didn’t indicate whether Johnson and Green had forced her into prostitution, and UNT spokeswoman Deborah Leliaert said she can't comment on the matter until the investigation is complete.
Terry couldn’t be reached for comment.
News of the story first broke when the Denton Record-Chronicle reported in early May that arrest warrants had been issued for two former UNT basketball players and a former team manager. The local newspaper indicated that Brice, whose tenure with the team ended in April, had been arrested on a possession of marijuana charge in connection with an investigation of organized criminal activity.
The news report appeared after UNT President Neal Smatresk’s office sent out a press release about Brice, Johnson and Green. It did not indicate, however, what kind of organized criminal activity Johnson and Green were accused of conducting. “Based on the information the university has received from law enforcement thus far, this appears to be an isolated incident," it read.
Smatresk and Wren Baker, UNT vice president and director of athletics, retained the services of the national law firm Bond Schoeneck & King to conduct an independent review of the basketball program. “The alleged actions of these students are contrary to the values of our university and our Student Code of Conduct,” Smatresk said in the May 2 press release. “The university is cooperating fully with investigators and working diligently to obtain all facts pertaining to this issue.”
After the incident became public knowledge, Baker released a prepared statement that he and UNT basketball coach Grant McCasland are committed to building a championship culture on and off the court. He said they would not tolerate an environment that was not safe, respectful and welcoming. “Even one incident of misconduct is one too many,” he said.
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This investigation comes at a time when UNT is involved in a federal civil-rights lawsuit regarding a student who claims the school failed to investigate properly after a university employee sexually assaulted her. The U.S. Department of Education opened a Title IX investigation in September 2016.
Leliaert, the UNT spokeswoman, was quick to point out that this incident was in not similar to what was occurring at Baylor University in Waco, where 11 lawsuits have been filed alleging systematic coverups of dozens of sexual assaults. UNT administration initiated the investigation with a third-party law firm instead of waiting for public outcry, she says. She also indicated that the university is being far more transparent with this case. “We’ve been very proactive,” she says.
Although UNT campus police haven’t finished their investigation regarding other clients, the team manager, the basketball player and the assistant coach have bonded out of jail. Johnson posted a bond of $2,500 and $1,000 for both of his charges and was released May 3. Green posted his $1,200 bond May 9, and Terry was released on $500 bond May 11.
Johnson, Green and Brice were still students when they were arrested. They have been banned from campus. It is unclear if they will be allowed to return.