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PSU football player faces assault charges

| Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Penn State defensive back Anwar Phillips has been charged with assaulting a female student and was expelled from school.

One charge each of sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault against Phillips were filed Thursday with Centre County Distrist Justice Carmine Prestia. Phillips turned himself in that day and was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

Phillips will have a preliminary hearing before Prestia at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

According to the official complaint, the assault happened Nov. 12, 2002, at the on-campus apartment of a Penn State student. Phillips called the student early that morning, then met her at the apartment.

The Penn State Police became aware of the incident later that day after the female student visited the Ritenour Women's Health Clinic.

Penn State Police assistant supervisor Bernadette Bland said Phillips went before the university's Judicial Affairs board in mid-December. Under university policy, Phillips received an automatic suspension of two semesters because of the nature of the incident.

Bland told the Daily Collegian, the university's newspaper, that the four-month gap between the day of the incident and the charges being filed was not unusual.

"That's how long it took for the investigation," she said. "Under normal circumstances, it takes that long."

Phillips, a redshirt freshman, started at nickel back for the Nittany Lions this season, and made 20 tackles and two interceptions. He played in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day and was credited with one pass breakup.

In mid-January, Phillips abruptly left Penn State and returned to his home in Germantown, Md. At the time, no cause was given for his departure.

"He left for personal reasons," defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said in an interview with the Tribune-Review on Feb 1. "It's not because of academics or anything like that. I've talked to him, and I fully anticipate him being back when practice starts in the fall."

Phillips' expulsion will be in effect for the current spring semester and the entire summer semester. He could then be eligible to return to school in the fall.

Penn State sports information director Jeff Nelson last night confirmed that Phillips is not enrolled at the school and that coach Joe Paterno is aware of the charges against Phillips.

Nelson did not know when Paterno was told of the charges. Paterno is not expected to make any comment on the matter until Wednesday, when he holds a scheduled press conference before the start of spring practice.

The Nittany Lions begin spring drills Saturday. Had he not left the team, Phillips would have been competing for a starting job. Instead, his status, and the status of his athletic scholarship, are uncertain.

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