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Friday, September 5, 2003
Police: Rutherford forced way into woman's car

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Pitt quarterback Rod Rutherford was charged Friday with kicking out a car window and assaulting a woman outside a nightclub.

Rutherford forced his way into the car early Monday after she refused his advances, police said. Rutherford got out of the car and grabbed the 19-year-old woman through a partially opened window, causing her to strike her head and face, police said Friday.

As the woman drove away, Rutherford kicked out a window, police said. Two passengers in the car were not injured.

Rutherford was charged with indecent assault, simple assault and criminal mischief. He has disputed the woman's account, saying she threw a glass at him in the parking lot.

Calls to his attorney, James Wymard, were not immediately returned Friday.

The charges came one day after coach Walt Harris said Rutherford violated team rules and would not be the opening-day starter Saturday for the No. 10 Panthers.

"I have a great deal of respect for Rod Rutherford," Harris said Thursday. "From the information we have, he has engaged in behavior that is contrary to those expectations, our team rules and the responsibilities he assumes as a leader."

Harris on Thursday did not say if additional action would be taken if charges were filed.

Harris' decision most likely means redshirt freshman Luke Getsy, who did not play last season, will start against Kent State (1-0).

Earlier this week, Harris said the case had become a major distraction as Pitt enters its most anticipated season in 20 years.

Less than three months ago, sophomore wide receiver Billy Gaines fell to his death after a cookout at which five Panthers players allegedly were served alcohol by a priest.

Rutherford led Pittsburgh to a 9-4 record in his first season as a starter, throwing for 2,783 yards and 22 touchdowns. He passed for a touchdown in a 38-13 victory over Oregon State in the Insight Bowl. His 3,181 yards in total offense set a school record and were the third most in Big East Conference history.