A Texas appeals court late Wednesday overturned former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu's sexual assault convictionand also ruled that he should be granted a new trial, according to multiple reports.
At the heart of the three-judge panel's ruling on the conviction is that text messages between Ukwuachu's accuser and a friend should have been allowed as defense evidence thatUkwuachu saysindicated the woman's consent, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Originally convicted in 2015,Ukwuachu was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years of felony probation and 400 hours of community service. He also was ordered to register as a sex offender.
In Wednesday night's ruling, the judges wrote, "[W]e cannot say that we have a fair assurance that the erroneous exclusion of the text messages" did not affect the jury's decision.
Ukwuachu's case was the first to bring scrutiny to the Baylor football program,then-coach Art Briles, and his staffbecause it came after the Houston-area high school star transferred to Baylor following hisdismissalfrom the team atBoise State.Aformer girlfriend accused him of hitting and choking her while he was at Boise State.
His convictionled to former Baylor president Ken Starr's call for an internal investigation of the university's handling of sexual assault allegations by students, which cascaded into a full-blown scandal that eventually cost Briles, Starr and other Baylor administratorstheir jobs.