Alleged encounter was told to coaches, not police

Updated: September 23, 2004, 11:27 AM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- A third La Salle basketball player has been charged with rape over an alleged 2003 sexual encounter with a female player from the school that was reported to coaches at the time but not to police, officials said.

Dzaflo Larkai, 22, a forward who attended high school in England, surrendered Wednesday on rape and related charges, said Sgt. Sean McGlinn of the Philadelphia Police Department's special victims unit.

Larkai had his ties with the university severed after his arrest, La Salle spokesman Joe Donovan said.

Larkai was being held for processing late Wednesday; the identity of his lawyer was not immediately available.

The case -- combined with the July arrests of teammates Michael Cleaves and Gary Neal, who allegedly raped a severely intoxicated female basketball camp counselor -- led to the resignation this summer of La Salle's men's and women's basketball coaches.

Larkai's alleged victim played on La Salle's women's team, prosecutors have said. She told authorities this year that she had informed both women's coach John Miller and men's coach Billy Hahn about the alleged assault at the time, but declined to file charges at the coaches' urging.

Hahn and Miller have denied that account, saying they kept quiet to honor her wishes.

Hahn has said the player asked him not to contact authorities or school administrators, while Miller said she spoke to him in confidence.

The woman contacted authorities after learning of the alleged June 24 assault of the female basketball counselor, a 19-year-old player at the University of New Haven. She said she had been raped in April 2003.

According to the New Haven player's testimony at a preliminary hearing last month, Cleaves and Neal simultaneously raped her as she vomited in their dorm room sink after a drinking binge.

A Philadelphia judge upheld the charges against Cleaves, 22, of Paterson, N.J., and Neal, 19, of Aberdeen, Md., saying the woman was too drunk to have given consent to the alleged acts, Assistant District Attorney Rich DeSipio said.

Like Larkai, they are no longer enrolled at La Salle.

School officials do not feel the latest arrest will harm the school's reputation.

"It's old news," Donovan said Wednesday night. "... We've been very good about keeping students and everybody else informed. ... I think the situation here is very much under control."

Maine coach John Giannini was hired to replace Hahn while Miller's longtime assistant, Tom Lochner, replaced him as women's coach.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press