FAIR GROVE, Mo. -- A former Fair Grove high school football standout whose name was marred by charges of rape-- has now been cleared of the crime.
Austin Fodge, 20, was found not guilty of rape by Greene County Judge Calvin Holden.
The initial incident was back in April 2017, that's when Fodge's ex-girlfriend said he raped her. She went to the ER that night, did a sexual assault exam, and contacted police.
Fodge's storied football career first put him into the spotlight, but now, he's glad to be out of it.
"If you look at more than what the Probable Cause statement is-- then you understand the whole thing-- just looking at the probable cause statement, it's one sided," said Carrie Fodge, Austin's mom. She says she and her son are ready to move on with their lives.
But prosecutors still say they think Fodge did rape his on-again, off-again girlfriend of three years, and the state feels like they had sufficient evidence to prove it.
"... text messages sent within minutes of the act afterwards," explained Greene County prosecutor Dan Patterson. The reporter asked him if the texts were an apology-- Patterson responded with this: "saying what happened was wrong and not what was intended."
The 2017 police record stated Fodge told the girl-- "that was 100-percent not acceptable, I'm so sorry and I'm so disgusted with myself."
Austin's mom says the texts were simply an apology that their intended only conversation, turned into a sexual encounter-- and were in reference to an argument the couple got into rather than some attack.
"Sometimes we text things and it comes out differently and that's what he was apologizing for cause he was not going over there to have sex with her," Carrie Fodge said.
Charges are dropped, but a case still costly for all involved.
"The high school would not allow him to walk at his graduation... he lost his football scholarship; he couldn't apply for numerous jobs because he had this hanging over his head," Carrie said.
"I still believe we proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt-- the judge, while making some statements about his inappropriate conduct, and they were vague statements so I can't explain what those meant, but found that we didn't meet our very high burden of beyond a reasonable doubt," Patterson said. "That doesn't mean it didn't happen, that means we weren't able to prove it to the extent the court was looking for."
Carrie says they are moving on-- they have moved to Florida, and she says Austin will pursue a career in the military and in corrections.