Neal, Cleaves face sexual assault raps

Updated: July 9, 2004, 6:21 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- A second La Salle University basketball player surrendered Friday to face charges that he and a teammate raped a visiting female athlete on campus last month.

The men's and women's basketball coaches at La Salle were placed on administrative leave, in part while the school investigates their alleged handling of an earlier rape allegation, university spokesman Jon Caroulis said Friday.

Gary Neal, 19, of Baltimore, who surrendered to police Friday, and Michael Cleaves, 22, of Paterson, N.J., who turned himself in Thursday night, are both accused of participating in the sexual assault, according to the charges, which include unlawful restraint and conspiracy. They are no longer students at La Salle.

A basketball player from the University of New Haven told police she was assaulted by the pair in a La Salle dormitory in June. The woman was working at a youth basketball camp while the La Salle players were taking summer classes, a university spokesman said.

The arrests came after DNA evidence matched samples taken from the suspects, authorities said. Cleaves' lawyer did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday, while a listed number for Neal's lawyer could not be found.

After the initial accusations, detectives learned that a player on the La Salle women's basketball team said she had been raped by a men's team player in April 2003 but never reported it to police. La Salle is investigating whether either coach was told of that alleged assault but failed to report it, as federal law requires, Caroulis said.

Men's coach Billy Hahn and women's coach John Miller were put on indefinite paid leave Tuesday, the school said. During their leave, assistant Bill Dooley will oversee the men's program and assistant Tom Lochner will coach the women.

Philadelphia police have interviewed the coaches, but are not investigating the alleged reporting failure because it falls under federal jurisdiction, said Lt. Tom McDevitt of the police department's special victims unit.

Rich Manieri, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, declined comment on whether an investigation is under way.

The 1990 reporting law -- named for Jeanne Clery, who was raped and killed while sleeping in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986 -- requires post-secondary schools that receive federal aid to report certain campus crimes or face possible civil fines.

Hahn is 37-53 in three seasons at La Salle. His lawyer, Nicholas Nastasi, said Hahn is confident that he will be reinstated after the probe. Miller has coached the Explorers for 18 seasons, going 317-203 with two NCAA tournament appearances.

Officials at La Salle, which is run by the Christian Brothers, pledged full cooperation in the probe.

"We are appalled by such behavior, and will not tolerate it from anyone," Brother Michael J. McGinniss, the school's president, said Friday in a statement.

Neal and Cleaves were being held pending a weekend court appearance.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press