Public defender assigned in Maurice Washington case; plea hearing scheduled for June

Public defender assigned in Maurice Washington case; plea hearing scheduled for June
Maurice Washington was a limited participant during spring practices and didn't play in the spring game while dealing with legal issues. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD

Husker running back Maurice Washington will now be represented by a California attorney as he faces allegations that he forwarded a video of a minor performing a sex act.

In a routine court hearing Monday, the Santa Clara County (California) Public Defender’s Office was appointed to Washington’s case. The exact attorney who will be assigned should be determined by Tuesday, a worker in the public defender’s office said at midday Monday.

Washington next is scheduled to be in court June 12 to enter a plea in the case. Despite earlier reports that Washington had entered not-guilty pleas in April when he waived a formal court appearance, no pleas have yet been entered in the case, said Benjamin Rada, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Washington, 19, is accused of texting a 10-second video of a former girlfriend performing oral sex to that girl in March 2018. The girl was 15 years old when the video was recorded in 2016. Washington did not record the video and did not take part in the sex act.

According to court documents, the girl was congratulating Washington on going to Nebraska to play football. They began texting again, but the conversation turned romantic. The girl had said she just wanted to be friends with Washington, according to the documents.

Washington then texted the video to the girl, the court documents allege, and wrote, “Remember this hoe.”

The felony charge he faces is possession of a video of a person under 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct. The misdemeanor charge Washington faces is sharing a recording without the person’s consent.

John Ball, a Lincoln criminal defense attorney, represented Washington when news broke in February that officials planned to charge Washington. But Ball does not have a license to practice law in California, which is why the hearing to determine who would represent Washington was held Monday.

Ball said he continues to represent Washington and communicate with prosecution on the case, but someone from the public defender’s office will appear in person when needed.

Washington was not present at Monday’s court hearing, but participated via telephone from Ball’s office, Ball said.

Ball said in a statement Monday that he will have time before the next hearing to finish researching the case and “continue our discussions regarding possible alternative dispositions.”

“As always, Mr. Washington is cooperating fully in this matter, and hopes for a just and speedy result,” Ball said in an email. “He continues to appreciate the continued support of the people in his life, and is optimistic about his bright future.”

Washington was a limited participant in the Huskers’ spring practices and didn’t play in Nebraska’s spring game.