Restraining orders remain in effect for five Gophers football players

A Hennepin County District Court judge has set a new hearing for Nov. 2.

by Mike Hendrickson

Five Gophers football players are still barred from playing in games at TCF Bank Stadium after a Hennepin County District Court ruling upheld restraining orders Tuesday.

KiAnte Hardin, Ray Buford, Tamarion Johnson, Carlton Djam and Dior Johnson will appear in court again Nov. 2 — three days before the next home game — when Judge Mel Dickstein said he expects to decide whether to uphold the restraining orders.

The woman filed an order Saturday against a sixth football player, Kiondre Thomas, which was dropped Monday, the players’ attorney Lee Hutton said.

Hutton said he will pursue the dismissal as possible grounds for dropping the others.

“The court expressed that [the judge] was going to give an order in timely fashion so these kids would play,” Hutton said. “Ultimately, we are ready, willing and able to produce evidence that completely contradicts the petitioner’s story.”

The alleged victim, a game-day employee and University of Minnesota student, filed the orders after an alleged Sept. 2 off-campus incident. None of the players named in the restraining orders were arrested or charged after the Minneapolis Police Department investigated.

The six players were served the restraining orders before Minnesota’s game against Rutgers at TCF Bank Stadium on Oct. 22 and were unable to play. All of them appeared in court Tuesday morning.

The woman’s attorney, Amy Isenor, said Dickstein’s decision to hold off on an immediate ruling falls in line with Minnesota law requiring at least five days’ notice of a respondent’s request for a hearing.

Gophers football head coach Tracy Claeys suspended Hardin, Buford and both Johnsons Sept. 10 for three games last month. He lifted the suspensions Oct. 4 — one day after the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against the suspended players.

All six players are active and allowed to play at Saturday’s game at Illinois, Claeys said. Hardin is listed as a starter for that game.

“We’re going to play our best 11 who are eligible to play, period,” Claeys said.

Of the six, Buford, Hardin, Djam, and Dior Johnson have played this season.

This story was updated on Oct. 26 to reflect a new court date for the five football players.