KSU football player charged with assault

By grant engle | kentwired.com Published:

A Kent State football player has been accused of misdemeanor assault and knowingly causing property damage.

Senior linebacker Cari-El Jerome "C.J." Steward, 22, was issued a summons Feb. 15 after Shane Riley and Morgan J. Lepore -- two of Steward's coworkers -- filed a criminal complaint against him on Feb. 14. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond pending future court dates, according to court records.

The incidents allegedly took place Feb. 13 in an apartment at The Province at 609 S. Lincoln St. near campus. At the time, Steward, Riley and Lepore were all employees of The Province.

A spokeswoman for The Province said Steward's employment was terminated Feb. 14 after a complaint from Lepore, but the company could not comment on any other details because the case and investigation is ongoing.

Lepore, senior interior design major, also declined to comment because the case is still pending, but she said she doesn't plan to remain silent forever.

"I'd be happy to talk to (the Daily Kent Stater) as soon as the case is closed," Lepore said.

Steward, a senior anthropology major and native of Jacksonville, Fla., did not return multiple phone calls.

According to Kent police, Lepore's accused Steward of grabbing her by the arm, shoving her into a closet door and damaging her television.

A spokesman for the athletic department said Steward has been suspended indefinitely from "all-football and athletic department-related activities." The Province's spokeswoman confirmed that Lepore is still employed by The Province, and she is listed on the property's website as a resident services manager. Steward was still on the website Tuesday as a senior community assistant -- despite being terminated nearly two weeks earlier.

Steward's pretrial is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. on March 13 in Portage County Municipal Court in Kent. The assault charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, while the property damage charge is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Steward did not see any action for the Flashes during the 2012 season, and he sat out the 2011 season because of an injury. His player profile on the athletic department's website says he has previously worked as a YMCA counselor and a teacher at a Vacation Bible School.

Contact this reporter at gengle@kent.edu.

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