Mets stop talks as Milledge investigated

Updated: August 5, 2003, 9:26 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets have halted contract negotiations with first-round draft pick Lastings Milledge while they investigate allegations that he had sexual contact with girls as young as 12 when he was in high school, the Daily News reported Tuesday.

The allegations reportedly stemmed from an unsigned letter that said his school should look into misconduct by Milledge, at the time a 16-year-old junior at Northside Christian School in Florida. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Department investigated, and the state's attorney's office took over the case.

"Our crimes against children detectives unit was very serious about pursuing this case,'' sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha told the Daily News. "They felt strongly there was some victimization involved.''

Milledge, now 18, denied the accusations, the newspaper said.

"He was never arrested, never charged, never appeared before a judge,'' Milledge's attorney, Robert Heyman, told the Daily News.

Milledge, an outfielder, was selected 12th overall in the amateur draft last June out of Lakewood Ranch High School in Palmetto, Fla.

Mets senior vice president David Howard said the team did not know about the allegations until recently, the newspaper reported.

In a statement read to the Daily News by team spokesman Jay Horwitz, the Mets called the allegations "serious'' and said they "warrant further investigation to assess their validity.''

"Until we know what the facts are, we will reserve judgment and any further comment,'' Horwitz said.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press