Ex-associate AD Nielsen not indicted on assault charges

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Former associate athletic director Heath Nielsen will not be indicted on a misdemeanor assault warrant stemming from an alleged confrontation in November.

The McLennan County Grand Jury declined to indict Nielsen on Wednesday.

McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna presented the misdemeanor case to the Grand Jury, which usually only reviews felony cases.

The warrant came from an on-field dispute between Nielsen and a sports writer following the Bears’ loss to TCU on Nov. 5, 2016.

The sports writer alleged that he was grabbed by the throat and pushed away from a player by Nielsen after taking a photo of the player.

The incident was captured on camera by the McLane Stadium video system, and the jurors reviewed the video Wednesday morning.

Nielsen’s attorney, Michelle Tuegel, released a brief written statement following the jury’s decision.

“We are not surprised,” Tuegel wrote in an email to the Lariat. “We are grateful that the video evidence revealed the truth and innocence of Heath Nielsen regarding the recent accusations made against him.”

Tuegel also said in the statement that this case can be an example moving forward of assuming innocence until proven guilty.

“Mr. Nielsen’s case is an example of the power of a false accusation and the importance of the presumption of innocence,” Tuegel wrote in the email.

James McBride, the sports writer who pressed charges, received permission from a football player to take a picture, but after he took the picture “Nielsen walked up to McBride on the right, grabbed McBride by the throat with his right hand, squeezed and pushed him away from the football player,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KWTX in November.

Following the incident, Tuegel released a brief written statement denying the claims.

“The one-sided version of events released by the complainant are not true or accurate,” Tuegel wrote in an email to the Lariat. “Mr. Nielsen maintains that he intervened to stop the interview, but he did not grab the complainant’s throat.”

Nielsen left Baylor on Feb. 3 following a 16-year career with the Baylor athletic communications department.

Nielsen joined the Baylor staff in 2000 following stints at the athletic departments at New Mexico State University and Mississippi State University according to KWTX.

Nielsen spent six years as Baylor’s assistant athletic director of communications and six years as director of athletic media relations. In 2012, Nielsen was placed in charge of maintaining the football program’s public image as associate athletic director, according to KWTX.

After the incident in November, Nielsen returned to work but in a less visible role. In early February, Nielsen’s profile was removed from the Baylor athletics website, and his Twitter was disassociated with the university, according to KWTX.