Thursday, October 15, 2009
Scott claims authorities ruined NFL bid
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A former Penn State tailback who hoped to play in the NFL claims in a lawsuit that authorities ruined his professional aspirations after filing a rape charge against him that was later dropped.
An attorney for Austin Scott filed the civil suit this week against Centre County prosecutors, Penn State police and the university in federal court in Williamsport. The suit said Scott suffered "mental pain and suffering" and diminished "earning capacity" because of the case.
He never played for the Nittany Lions after coach Joe Paterno suspended him in October 2007 for violating team rules. Police charged Scott a week later.
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"Two years later, we are convinced his professional football career is over. Neither the NFL nor the CFL is looking at him because of the scarlet letter he has on his forehead," Scott's attorney John Karoly said Thursday night.
Prosecutors withdrew the charges in April 2008 after the state Superior Court ruled jurors could hear testimony about the alleged victim's involvement in a separate sexual assault case in 2003. The defendant in that case was acquitted.
Centre County District Attorney Michael Madiera's office said then in a statement that charges were dropped because there was "no reasonable likelihood" it could meet the burden of proof.
Scott, 24, now lives in East Stroudsburg. His lawsuit includes charges of malicious prosecution and civil conspiracy.
The alleged victim was named a defendant in the suit, along with several Penn State police officers; Madeira; Lance Marshall, the lead assistant DA on the case who has since resigned; and the university and county.
The lawsuit alleges Scott enjoyed a "highly successful" high school and college career before his arrest, and that he was slated to be a third- or fourth-round draft pick in the NFL.
Scott arrived at Penn State in 2003 after having set state scholastic records the previous year for most single-season rushing yards (3,853) and touchdowns (53) at Parkland High School in Allentown.
But his career at Penn State was hindered by injuries and lesser off-field issues that didn't please Paterno. He had 302 yards and six touchdowns on 69 carries in five games in 2007 before being suspended.
Scott signed as a free agent with the Cleveland Browns in May 2008 but was waived five months later.
Madeira called Scott's legal claims "frivolous" Thursday evening, though he had not read the lawsuit.
University police referred comment to school spokeswoman Lisa Powers.
"These allegations are false. Employees of Penn State took appropriate action in following up on a report of an alleged crime, and we plan to vigorously defend the university against these charges," Powers said.
Athletic department spokesman Jeff Nelson said the team could not comment.
In a separate matter, Marshall is under investigation by the state attorney general's office for alleged inappropriate contact with a female victim in a domestic abuse case he was prosecuting.
A phone message left for Marshall was not immediately returned.