Rape charges await La Salle player Neal

Ex-Calvert Hall star part of probe

Hahn on leave

College Basketball

July 09, 2004|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Two prominent La Salle University basketball players, including former Calvert Hall star Gary Neal, face sexual-assault charges in Philadelphia today after a two-week investigation into an alleged rape of a 19-year-old woman last month on the school's campus.

Mike Cleaves, a sophomore guard from Paterson, N.J., turned himself into the Special Victims Unit of the Philadelphia police and has been charged with a long list of sexual offenses, including rape.

According to Special Victims Unit detective Harry Young, an arrest warrant was signed last night for Neal, a sophomore guard from Aberdeen. The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting in today's edition that Neal was in Atlanta waiting for a flight to Philadelphia.

Earlier in the day, La Salle officials confirmed that men's basketball coach Billy Hahn -- a former Maryland men's assistant -- and women's coach John Miller have been placed on administrative leave with pay while the school tries to determine whether they discouraged a 20-year-old female La Salle student from reporting another alleged rape in April 2003.

The 2003 allegations came to light only after the 19-year-old student, from the University of New Haven in Connecticut, told Philadelphia police she had been raped by two La Salle basketball players on June 24. The younger woman had been working at a basketball camp on the La Salle campus, and said the alleged assault took place after a party where there had been drinking.

Neal was the Explorers' leading scorer last season, averaging 18 points. He was the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman and made All-Conference second-team honors for the second time this year.

Neal, 6 feet 4, played one season at Calvert Hall after transferring from Aberdeen, where he played under coach Richard Hart for two years.

"He went through things that are normal to kids growing up and getting through high school," Hart said Wednesday as reports about Neal's involvement began to circulate. "But he impressed me as someone that was focused on his goals and driven.

"He was a well-mannered young man when he was with me."

Neal's father, Gordon O. Neal Sr. of Aberdeen, did not return a message at his home yesterday. His brother, Gordon O. Neal Jr. of Parkville, declined to comment and hung up on a reporter.

DNA samples taken from Neal and Cleaves, the Inquirer reported, matched genetic material recovered from the dorm room where the alleged incident took place in June.

Dean of Students Joseph J. Cicala sent a letter last week to La Salle students saying that the two players in question were no longer enrolled, or living, on campus.

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