Justice arrested on suspicion of assault

Updated: March 7, 2004, 2:16 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- USC began its spring practice without starting offensive tackle Winston Justice, who was suspended after his second arrest in just over eight months.

Justice, 19, was arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon, though not a firearm, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Web site. He was released on $50,000 bail around 1 a.m. Thursday.

The arrest apparently stemmed from an incident near campus in late February.

"It's a very difficult situation that he's put himself in," USC Coach Pete Carroll said. "I don't know what it's all going to mean until later. We'll just have to wait and see."

The Trojans said Friday that Justice was ineligible for spring practice because of a "student conduct issue" but did not mention the latest arrest.

Mark Jackson, an assistant athletic director in charge of football, said Saturday that Justice cannot attend classes for at least two weeks and would probably have to appear at a hearing before a student conduct board.

"Winston is sad because he made some poor choices. He's sorry for what's happened," Justice's father, Gary, told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm confident that he's going to be exonerated."

Justice, a two-year starter who would be regarded as an All-American candidate in the upcoming season, was previously arrested in June when he solicited an undercover police officer in a Long Beach prostitution sting operation.

He pleaded no contest in July to a misdemeanor charge and was sentenced to three years of summary probation, fined $300 and ordered to undergo HIV testing and attend a court-approved AIDS class.

Carroll did not suspend Justice when fall practice began last season.

On Saturday, Carroll said he had not addressed Justice's situation with the team and probably would not do so until Tuesday. He would not specify what disciplinary action awaited Justice if he was allowed to return to the team.

"We don't really comment about what we're doing or how we do that kind of stuff," Carroll said. "We just keep our stuff in house and take care of business as we need to hopefully."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press