Two accused of beating up cheerleader
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Two Missouri women's basketball players suspended after an off-campus fight will not face criminal charges for allegedly beating up a male cheerleader.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that they are closing the case against seniors Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson, citing conflicting versions of what happened and the cheerleader's decision not to press charges.
The women, Missouri's two leading scorers, were arrested Dec. 11 on suspicion of misdemeanor assault after Tigers cheerleader Justin Short said he was beaten up by the pair at his off-campus apartment following an early-morning bar visit. Coach Cindy Stein suspended the two players the next day.
Assistant Boone County prosecutor Ryan Haigh cited conflicting accounts given by the three athletes and several other witnesses as well the role of alcohol in the differing versions.
Short had summoned police to his apartment about 2 a.m. after complaining that several guests, including Johnson and Hanneman, were making too much noise. The players told police they attempted to break up a dispute between Short and a female roommate after he physically restrained the woman.
Johnson admitted pushing Short and Hanneman admitted to "slapping and punching" the cheerleader, police said.
Short's statement didn't mention any physical aggression on his part. He suffered a broken nose and facial cuts.
"We have varying accounts of what happened," Haigh said. He added that most of the witnesses interviewed acknowledged alcohol use, further complicating the investigation.
Short also told prosecutors that he didn't want to press charges. Haigh said that wasn't a "defining factor" but played a role in the decision to not continue further.
It wasn't immediately known whether the suspensions will be lifted. Stein was traveling Wednesday and athletic department officials had no comment after earlier saying they expected to issue a response later Wednesday.
Missouri (7-2) next plays at home on Dec. 21 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The short-handed Tigers beat Murray State by 39 points in their only game since the suspensions.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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