Charges dropped, Wingate hoping to rejoin Spurs

February 28, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

With rape charges in Howard County being dropped against David Wingate, the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA said they will decide in about a week whether to seek to re-sign the former player.

Howard County State's Attorney William R. Hymes today opted not to proceed with a rape trial against Wingate, the former Dunbar High and Georgetown University basketball star, after the complainant decided to not continue to press charges.

Wingate's agent, William L. Strickland, said he would contact the Spurs on Sunday when the team plays the Bullets in Washington.

Matt Sperisen, a spokesman for the team, said the Spurs would probably decide within a week whether to resume contract negotiations with Wingate, 27.

"I don't think anyone can argue, basketball-wise, what David Wingate can do," said Sperisen, adding that team owner Red McCombs would review today's action. "It kind of comes down to his public image."

Earlier this month, prosecutors in Bexar County, Texas, dropped other rape charges against Wingate after he had been accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman there last June.

A member of Georgetown's NCAA championship team in 1984, Wingate was a backup guard with the Spurs when he was arrested last September on charges of raping a 17-year-old Columbia girl in his apartment.

The woman told police last Sept. 16 that Wingate forced himself on her in a bedroom at his apartment after she had gotten drunk. She said she had gone to the apartment with her sister and two of Wingate's friends for a party. Wingate argued that the girl consented.

The charges against Wingate in Howard County will stand for one year unless he is charged in another case involving moral turpitude, said Hymes and Wingate's attorney, Philip Armstrong.

Wingate was in the midst of contract negotiations with the Spurs when he was arrested. The team had said it would not re-sign him until the rape charges were settled.

"I'm happy everything is behind me right now," Wingate said after a brief hearing before county Circuit Court Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. "I'm looking forward to getting back to playing basketball with the Spurs."

He would not comment on the incident.

Hymes said he agreed not to try the case to honor requests of the victim and her father, although the girl maintains that she was raped.

"They've indicated they've gone through tremendous trauma and are looking forward to putting this behind them," he said.

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