Penn State QB pleads not guilty to assault charge

Casey stands accused of attacking policeman

College Football

May 16, 2000|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State football coach Joe Paterno wasn't talking yesterday about Rashard Casey's arrest over the weekend for allegedly assaulting an off-duty police officer, but plenty of others were.

Casey, who was arrested along with another man early Sunday morning outside a nightclub in his hometown of Hoboken, N.J., pleaded not guilty to one charge of aggravated assault yesterday afternoon at his arraignment in Jersey City, N.J.

"He's not guilty," said Dennis McAlevy of Mount Union, N.J., the attorney representing Casey. "There's no way in the world he'll ever be convicted of this for the very good reason that he didn't do it."

Casey, 22, penciled in as the starting quarterback for the Nittany Lions in the fall, was released from Hudson County Jail on $5,000 bail yesterday morning, according to Omar Taylor, an investigator for the Central Judicial Processing Court in Jersey City.

Hoboken Police Chief Carmen LaBruno told the Bergen (N.J.) Record that Casey and 22-year-old Desmond Miller, a teammate of Casey's at Hoboken High School, were charged with aggravated assault after the off-duty Hoboken police officer -- 34-year-old Patrick Fitzsimmons -- was jumped, knocked down and kicked in the face. Casey and Miller were accompanied by a third person -- identified as Syracuse University football player Keeon Walker -- but Walker was not charged.

Fitzsimmons was treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Hoboken and released Sunday. LaBruno said Sunday the officer, who had facial cuts and bruises and needed stitches in his mouth, probably will have to undergo facial surgery.

If convicted of the aggravated assault charge, LaBruno said, Casey could face up to five years in prison. McAlevy, though, doesn't think that will happen.

"I spoke with him, and he explained his situation," said McAlevy, who has known Casey since Casey was a 6-year-old playing on his daughter's Little League team. "I went out and started my own investigation, and as of now I've spoken to four eye-witnesses who fully support Rashard's version that he did not lay a hand on anybody."

The police, obviously, think differently. LaBruno said the crime goes deeper than it might appear. He said that Casey and Miller, who are both black, were bothered by the fact that Fitzsimmons, who is white, was with a black woman.

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