Most Assault Charges Filed Against Athletes

Although varsity student-athletes make up just over 11 percent of Georgetown’s undergraduate population, they have been arrested on and around Georgetown’s campus and charged with violent assaults by D.C. prosecutors at a rate more than double that of the general student body. And charges against them have been dismissed every time over the last year and a half, court records shows.

The fallout from a recent sexual assault scandal at Duke University, in which two Duke lacrosse athletes were indicted on charges of sexually assaulting an exotic dancer at a house party in arch, has put the spotlight on student-athletes who have committed crimes on college campuses.

At Georgetown, University President John J. DeGioia recently met with coaches and administrators to “discuss the issues and re-affirm our commitments,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.

The university’s athletic department has sponsored several programs to address problems specific to student-athletes, including a recent alcohol awareness seminar, athletic department spokesman Bill Shapland said.

Of the seven assault charges lodged against Georgetown students since January 2005 in the area surrounding Georgetown’s campus, five were brought against student-athletes, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office records. Four of the accused are football players and one is a lacrosse player. Of the two non-athletes charged, one was a former Georgetown football player and the other was arrested alongside three football players.

After the students completed special diversion or mediation programs designed for defendants with no prior criminal records, judges dismissed charges against six of the seven. And although simple assault charges against lacrosse player Daniel D’Agnes’ (COL ’08) have not yet been dismissed, they will be if he completes a court-mandated “diversion agreement” requiring that he serve 25 hours of community service and keep a clean record for six months.

THE HOYA obtained the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Office’s court reports from January 2005 to January 2006 for the District’s Second Police District, which includes Georgetown’s campus and the surrounding area.

The reports include every instance where prosecutors in the Attorney’s Office filed or “papered” charges, including violent and drug offenses. Lower-level charges such as public urination or underage alcohol consumption are prosecuted by a different office and were not included. Neither were arrests that never resulted in criminal charges being filed, or were “no-papered.” Court reports were not available for the period from January to April 2006.

The search of all criminal suspects identified seven Georgetown-affiliated suspects charged with crimes of violence, which includes the five athletes.

University administrators avoided discussing specific incidents and declined to discuss student disciplinary proceedings yesterday, although Shapland insisted the numbers proved nothing.

“I can’t really explain this,” Shapland said. “Right now this is anecdotal evidence and it doesn’t really follow.”

Officials caution against stereotypes that portray all student-athletes as aggressive, unruly students, noting that there are 700 student athletes, and only a handful have been charged with crimes.

Shapland said yesterday that the analysis of court records could unfairly demonize student-athletes. Saying that the athletic department “has a pretty good handle on its athletes,” Shapland added that he didn’t think that “statistically any of this amounts to a trend.”

Others said that athletes may be cited more often because they retain a higher profile on campus.

“It would appear that most of the high profile cases may have involved athletes but I’m not sure that it’s because they mostly involve them or because athletes just tend to be higher profile,” Vice President for University Safety David Morrell said. “But right now there’s no way for me to know.”

The trail begins in January 2005, when linebacker Joseph Kuhns (COL ’06) allegedly beat an Old Glory Restaurant manager after drunkenly falling into a restaurant refrigerator, according to a court affidavit. When the restaurant manager Michael Reyes tried to help him up, Kuhns punched Reyes “several times causing [him] to sustain a swollen black eye and a chipped tooth,” the affidavit said.

Reyes identified Kuhns in a police photo spread, and Kuhns was arrested and charged with simple assault.

But Kuhns entered a special mediation program and last June a D.C. Superior Court judge dismissed the charges, leaving him with a clean record.

“The charge was dropped and the case was dismissed. I think that speaks for itself,” Kuhns said.

For his part, Reyes said that he wished Kuhns well.

“I think he realized he made a mistake and I think we’d both like to put this behind ourselves and move on with our lives,” Reyes said.

Last Oct. 15, three student-athletes were allegedly involved in another beating incident

Football players Dan Mita (COL ’08), Christopher Higgins (COL ’08) and Charlie Curtis beat Georgetown student Daniel Kennedy (MSB ’08) after he tried to get into a Henle Village party, according to a prosecution affidavit. Mita, Curtis and Richard Calle (COL ’08) “shoved [Kennedy] into a corner adjacent to the dorm room door causing [Kennedy] to lose his balance,” the court documents said. Calle (COL ’08) choked Kennedy and then, along with Curtis, picked Kennedy up, threw him down a flight of stairs and began punching him, the affidavit said.

Football player Christopher Higgins (COL ’08) joined in the attack, running down the stairs, straddling Kennedy and punching him before kicking him “about the head,” the documents alleged.

Charges against all four students were dismissed Jan. 18 after they completed the Superior Court’s mediation program for first-time offenders.

Kennedy, Mita, Curtis, Calle and Higgins declined comment, citing the terms of their mediation agreement.

Less than a month later, lacrosse player Daniel D’Agnes (COL ’08) found himself jailed after he and two friends – one of whom, Collin Finnerty, was later indicted on rape charges at Duke University – allegedly called a man “gay” before punching him on Wisconsin Avenue. All three were charged with simple assault and they entered special diversion programs to have the charges dismissed, said D’Agnes’ lawyer Michael Starr. Finnerty’s case was recently re-opened by prosecutors after the Duke rape allegations surfaced.

A final student, Greg Davis (COL ’07), who played football for Georgetown from 2003 to 2004, was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer last December, after he pushed a police officer trying to break up a 38th Street party in the chest, knocking him off-balance, court records allege. The charges will be permanently dismissed at a July 26 diversion hearing, the records show.

Davis called the allegations “bogus” yesterday, adding that “the officer made everything up.”

A U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman said last month that the students’ cases have been dismissed because they qualify for special first-time-offender programs.

“Anyone who qualifies under the terms of the Superior Court’s mediation or diversion programs can apply to participate in those,” said Attorney’s Office spokesman Channing Phillips. “We don’t offer special treatment to anyone. Whether to prosecute someone or not is decided on a case-by-case basis.”

At least one study says that student-athletes commit a disproportionate amount of campus crime.

A prominent 1995 Northeastern University study that scrutinized judicial records at 10 colleges, commonly called the Benedict-Crosset study, showed that although male athletes comprise just over 3 percent of the student population, they committed 19 percent of sexual assaults and 35 percent of all domestic violence.

But the prevalence of violence by student-athletes remains unclear.

“Despite the amount of public attention paid to violence in collegiate athletics there is only very minimal research into the extent of it,” said S. Daniel Carter, senior vice president for Security on Campus, a campus safety advocacy group.

University administrators declined to discuss disciplinary sanctions placed on any of the charged students’ specific cases and added that they could not say whether athletes or members of any other student groups have had more disciplinary problems than other students.

Georgetown doesn’t have a mechanism to track those kinds of patterns and the university isn’t always notified by police or prosecutors when students are arrested, said Director of Student Conduct Judy Johnson.

“I guess my question is `What exactly would we be tracking?'” Johnson said.

And although the Department of Public Safety may have a computerized tracking system in place by next year, Morrell said even campus police have problems tracking patterns of crime under the current mostly paper system.

Yet universities can use the lacrosse scandal at Duke to address the issues of aggression related to male student-athletes, said Richard Lapchick, a professor at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

“There is a mentality among athletes that `we can get away with this, that no one is going to challenge us because we are student athletes,'” he told ABC News.

Supporting Documents: Facts Statement: Wisconsin Ave. Case Pdf Affidavit: Henle Case pdf Kuhns Affidavit pdf

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