It’s been almost three months since reports surfaced that Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura was accused of sexual assault while a high school football player in Hawaii. The university issued a statement about the accusations the following day, saying de Laura would remain with the program, but neither he or coach Jedd Fisch had spoken about the subject in public.
That all changed Friday when both the player and coach addressed the allegations during Pac-12 Football Media Day in Las Vegas.
De Laura, who was in attendance along with Fisch and UA cornerback Treydan Stukes, read from a prepared statement, his voice breaking on occasion:
“I kind of wrote out something. And I’ve been really thinking about this since everything came out. I want to start off by saying I understand the importance of the question that’s been asked over this time, as well as the fact that as journalists and everything, everybody has a job to do. But just believe me, that there’s nothing I would like to do but clear my name, if I could, defend myself from what’s been written. However, I hope you understand that, I’m bound by the law to not discuss this matter at all. And I just do not intend to break the law.”
De Laura, who is entering his second season at Arizona, had a civil complaint filed against him in December 2021—a month before he transferred to the UA from Washington State—that claimed he and a teammate at St. Louis School in Honolulu sexually assaulted a classmate in a parking garage following a playoff game in 2018. The complaint claimed de Laura, who was a minor at the time, pled guilty to, and was convicted of, sexual assault, but was not given a jail sentence.
Both Fisch and de Laura denied those claims Friday.
“What I can say today is that I’m grateful for the University of Arizona for assessing the facts in this matter, and allowing me to continue my education as a student-athlete,” de Laura said. “I would also like to thank (attorneys) Thomas Otake and Philip Miyoshi for correcting the misinformation that’s been reported, that stated I pled guilty or was convicted of sexual assault.”
Fisch said he and the school learned of the civil complaint last September.
“We were not able to get much information,” Fisch said. “We did as much due diligence as humanly possible. And what we learned was that Jayden never pled guilty or was ever found guilty of any crimes. And really, for us, that’s what we can live off of. And that’s what we could understand, that we can’t make decisions, or it’d be unfair to make decisions based upon information we don’t have. And there is no information, there won’t be any information that is available under Hawaii law. Everything is sealed and expunged. So there really is nothing for us to learn.”
De Laura, who appeared visibly shaken and had to pause at times to hold back tears, said the last few months have “brought me closer to my team,” and knowing that he still has their trust has enabled him to persevere.
“With everything that I was able to share with them, without breaking any laws or anything, they understand and feel what I’m going through,” de Laura said. “So just knowing that I had their support, I felt like that brings us closer as a team.”
Added Stukes: “He needed people to talk to. It’s bigger than football.”
While most questions asked by media in attendance were about the upcoming season, and his offseason training with a quarterback coach, de Laura was asked how he’s doing “as a human being.”
His response: “This has been lingering for like six years, since my junior year. Something I deal with by myself. But I would say I kind of worry more for my family.”
Fisch said nothing has changed in regards to his expectations for de Laura to be a team leader.
“What we can ask for is for Jayden, every day, to be the best possible leader he can be for us,” Fisch said. “Our culture is very important, as I mentioned, and all we can do is listen to the people that knew him the best, that knew the most amount of information. And when he and I and his family all found out about this lawsuit in September, our university acted as quick as possible.”
Court documents indicate de Laura and Kamo’i Latu, a safety at Wisconsin, have agreed to a settlement with the plaintiff in the civil complaint but it hasn’t been approved by the court. The lawsuit remains active, though, as St. Louis School has not settled its portion of the complaint.