New witness gives account in Peyton Manning accusations

Former Volunteer football player says sexual assault accusations are untrue

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 1996, file photo, Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning (16) is congratulated by an unidentified cheerleader after Tennessee defeated Ohio State 20-14 to win the Citrus Bowl, in Orlando. The lawyer for six women suing the University of Tennessee on its handling of sexual assault complaints by student-athletes is focused on the school’s systemic problems he believes exist and is surprised at the attention the complaint’s brief mention of Peyton Manning generated. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A man has stepped forward to give his account of what happened the day Jamie Whited, a former UT athletic trainer, claims Peyton Manning sexually assaulted her in a locker room.

Whited, who now goes by Dr. Jamie Naughright, alleges in court documents that Manning “sat on her face” on February 29, 1996 while she was examining his ankle. Manning denies any physical contact and said at the time it was a prank intended for another athlete.

A 1997 photo of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning. (AP Photo)
A 1997 photo of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning. (AP Photo)

Naughright settled with the University of Tennessee in 1997, but sued Manning for defamation in 2002 after he discussed the incident in his book “Manning.” The lawsuit was settled in 2003.

However, the case is now mentioned in a Title IX lawsuit eight women filed against the University of Tennessee alleging a hostile sexual environment surrounding the athletic department. The lawsuit mentions the incident on February 29, 1996.

Previous story: Peyton Manning named in UT sexual assault lawsuit

The University of Tennessee filed a motion in federal court to strike the paragraph referencing the allegations against Manning. The motion says the accusations are “immaterial, impertinent and scandalous,” as well as “misguided attempt” to generate publicity.

Previous story: UT files motion to strike Manning accusations from sexual assault lawsuit

Johnson's entry in the 1996 UT Football media guide. (Source: University of Tennessee)
Johnson’s entry in the 1996 UT Football media guide. (Source: University of Tennessee)

Greg Johnson, a former University of Tennessee football player and Manning’s roommate toldSports Illustrated he saw no physical contact between Manning and Naughright while he was present in the training room. Johnson told the magazine that Manning was in the training room leaning with one elbow on a training table while Naughright examined his foot from behind when another player, Michael Saxton, walked into the training room.

“He says hey to Saxon and pulls down the back of his shorts, and I saw one butt cheek, and then he pulled his pants up. And Jamie said something like, ‘Aw, you’re an ass.’ Then I left. Thought nothing of it,” Johnson told Sports Illustrated.

Related: Lawyer in Title IX case says focus is UT, not Peyton Manning

Johnson told Sports Illustrated that he has not come forward until now because he was on an overseas tour of duty and didn’t hear about the news. “They didn’t really report much about Peyton in the Iraqi Desert Times,” he joked to Robert Klemko, the author of the article.

Archie Manning, left, walks with his son, University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, as they leave Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. following a game in 1997. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Archie Manning, left, walks with his son, University of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning, as they leave Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. following a game in 1997. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

In the book “Manning,” the former University of Tennessee quarterback wrote about the incident and his thoughts on Naughright. “I admit that even in the context of “modern” life, what I did to offend this trainer was inappropriate. Not exactly a criminal offense, but out of line,” writes Manning.

Then one day I was in the training room and a track athlete I knew made some off-color remark that I felt deserved a colorful (i.e., Cooper-like) response. I turned my back in the athlete’s direction and dropped the seat of my pants. Cooper would have applauded, whether the trainer saw it or not. He’d been mooning people since he was twelve years old-out the back of buses, out car windows, wherever he felt the urge. He’s mooning champion of the world.

“But I did it thinking the trainer wasn’t where she would see. (Cooper would have done it so she could see.) Even when she did, it seemed like something she’s have laughed ad, considering the environment, or shrugged off as harmless. But as luck would have it, this particular trainer has been accumulating a list of complaints against the university that she intended to take action on – alleged sexist acts that, when her lawyer finally put it together, resulted in a lawsuit charging thirty-five counts of sexual harassment. In the end, the university settled with her for a good bit of money. My “involvement’ made headlines.”

A person letter, written by Saxon December 10, 2002 and entered into evidence in the defamation lawsuit asked Manning to come clean about what he said about Naughright.

Dear Peyton,

Well our paths have crossed again!! It has been 6 1/2 years since we visited last, so I thought I would touch base with you and let you know where I am coming from. My hope in writing htis letter is to ameliorate the situation. It has gotten out of hand on both sides; it has become very tiring.

First, I have stuck to my same story throughout this drama. I told Mike Rollo the net day and Coach Fulmer a week or two afterwards. I had nothing to hide at that point, and I have nothing to hide today. I have never been on Jamie’s side or your side (contrary to what the athletic department was telling you and telling her). I stuck to the truth and I lost my eligibility for it. My red shirt request sat on Mike Rollo’s desk for months, as the process (lawsuit was going forward. I am not angry about it anymore, just getting a little tired of it!!

Peyton, you messed up. I still don’t know why you dropped your drawers. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe not. But it was definitely inappropriate. Please take some personal responsibility here and own up to what you did (and for what you said in the book!) Jamie is a great trainer; help her restore her credibility. Only you can do that. I never understood why you didn’t admit to it; you would have endeared yourself to your fans that thought/think highly of you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that a lawsuit for millions of dollars is the right way to go about it (for Jamie). I told her that, and her lawyer as well. Coming clean is the right thing to do!! Bro, you have tons of class, but you have shown no mercy or grace to this lady who was on her knees seeing if you had a stress fracture. It’s not too late. She has had a tough go of it since leaving UT. You might say that she asked for it, but she was minding her own business when your book came out.

Peyton, the way I see it, at this point you are going to take a hit either way; if you settle out of court or if it goes to court. You might as well maintain some dignity and admit what happened. It’s going to help you out in the long run as well. Your celebrity doesn’t mean that you can treat folks this way. Peyton, people will have more respect for you when you (sic) they know more about you – good and bad. Do the right thing here!!

Sincerely,

Malcolm Saxon

Former coach, Phillip Fulmer denied ever talking to Saxon in his deposition. Mike Rollo was a trainer at the University during the time Manning and Saxon attended.

Continuing coverage: University of Tennessee Sexual Assault

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