Indecent assault charges against Julian Edelman were dropped Thursday because prosecutors thought they would not be able to prove the New England Patriots receiver "intentionally engaged in a harmful or offensive touching of the complainant."
Edelman was arrested and charged for allegedly groping a woman at a Halloween party on the dance floor of a Boston bar. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. A court date had been set for Jan. 10.
"After a thorough investigation of this case by the Boston Police Department's Sexual Assault Unit ... the Commonwealth has concluded that it would not be able to meet its burden at trial of proving each of the elements of indecent assault and battery beyond a reasonable doubt," Suffolk County prosecutors wrote in terminating the case.
Edelman released a statement shortly after the charges were dropped.
"I am very appreciative of the hard work of the county's public officials and of my attorney Amy McNamee," the statement read. "I am humbled by the support of my teammates and the Patriots organization. I'm just looking forward to focusing on football."
According to the district attorney's office, the review of the surveillance footage from the incident suggested that Edelman approached a woman on the dance floor and took her hand briefly. The review concluded that the physical contact was fleeting and did not meet the elements of any crime.
"To constitute indecent assault and battery, physical contact must be intentional; potentially physically harmful or an affront to the victim's integrity; fundamentally offensive to contemporary moral values; and without justification or excuse," the district attorney's office explained in a press release. "Prosecutors could not prove these elements with the evidence contained in the surveillance imagery, witness statements, and other sources."
Prosecutors said the investigation included not only a review of video footage from the scene, but interviews with the complainant and a review of witness statements.
A witness who was with the woman said he observed Edelman bump into her and then saw her face "change into an expression of shock," the complaint said. The woman and the witness told police they approached nightclub staff and asked to have Edelman thrown out.
The staff "ejected the witness followed by the victim," the complaint said.
The Patriots remained mum on the incident, but Edelman's agent, Don Yee, released a statement shortly after the arraignment.
"The charges will be fought vigorously within the court system, instead of a rush to judgment elsewhere," he said. "We have no further comment beyond that."
Edelman, 25, is in his third season with the Patriots. The Redwood City, Calif., native has totaled three receptions for 27 yards in a backup role this season, with his primary role as the team's kickoff and punt returner and occasionally a contributor on defense.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.