Assault charge dropped against Rutgers’ Leonte Carroo
A simple assault charge against suspended Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo has been dismissed by a Piscataway municipal judge, the same day a restraining order against the wideout was also dropped.
NJ.com reported that the dropping of the assault charge, which had been expected, became official late Tuesday.
Carroo had been accused of attacking a woman outside a football game last month — slamming the woman onto concrete and injuring her hip, hands, elbow and head.
But the woman — who worked worked for Rutgers athletics as a recruiting ambassador at the time of the altercation — agreed not to pursue the temporary restraining order Tuesday morning, attorney William Fetky said.
Fetky said he'd been ready Tuesday to present testimony from several witnesses that Carroo had nothing to do with any attack on the woman — but he was approached by the woman's attorney about dropping the temporary restraining order when he arrived at court.
"I can’t get inside their heads, but hey, we were ready to go. They decided not to pursue this for whatever reason," he said.
A call to the woman's attorney, William Gonzalez, had not yet been returned Tuesday, nor had a call to Carroo's separate attorney for the criminal charge, Peter Gilbreth.
But Fetky said the woman and Gonzalez agreed to resolve all the matters Tuesday.
The one snag, he said, is that the criminal complaint against Carroo had also been signed by a Rutgers University Police Officer. But the officer didn't see the altercation, and the matter can't realistically proceed without the woman's testimony, Carroo said, so he expected the municipal prosecutor and officer to agree to drop the charge.
Carroo was suspended from the Rutgers team after his arrest. Gilbreth has said he hopes Carroo will be allowed to return to the team once the criminal case is resolved.
It also wasn't immediately clear how Tuesday's developments might affect charges against Carroo's mother and girlfriend, also charged in the same altercation.
"There's a bunch of cross-complaints that have been charged against a bunch of the participants in this brouhaha" Fetky said. He does not represent any other parties in the altercation — though he guessed other charges in the incident might "fall by the wayside" once his client's matter was resolved.
Fetky had earlier released video he says shows Carroo is innocent.
It's hard to make out exactly what's happening in the two cell phone videos. It's clear there's a brawl, perhaps more than one. But who's who, and who's responsible for what — that's harder to tell even in careful viewings.
Fetky says the mobile phone videos, recorded by a member of the crowd outside show Carroo wasn't the aggressor — and didn't even touch his alleged victim.
The two videos, shown above, have been combined into one video file, and a moment of audio is blanked out because of profanity. They are otherwise unedited by New Jersey 101.5.
Fetky provided the alleged victim's name, though New Jersey 101.5 is declining to publish it while she is considered by authorities the victim of a domestic violence incident. New Jersey 101.5 has not yet been able to contact her.
According to Fetky, in the first video, several recruiting ambassadors — all in red tops — confront Maria Vega, Carroo's current girlfriend, outside the Hale Center in Piscataway. Carroo himself isn't anywhere in that video, Fetky said.
"They're attacking a woman — the only woman with white pants. That's Maria Vega," he has previously said.
Fetky said when he released the video Vega's "hair is pulled, she's slapped in the face — but she doesn't want to pursue anything. She's waiting for Leonte to finish his (post-game) press conference and be done with the matter."
According to Fetky, the alleged victim and Carroo had a one-night stand some time ago. "Apparently, she has bad blood for Maria," he said.
The second video takes place several minutes later. Fetky said in that incident, the girls confront Vega again. Carroo and friend Shane Turner run to intervene, and Turner pushes the alleged victim to the ground, Fetky said. Carroo didn't do anything other than grab Vega, to pull her away, he said.
According to Fetky, Turner was prepared to testify to that effect. New Jersey 101.5 has previously reached out to Turner seeking comment but messages have not been returned.
Carroo has been charged with simple assault, as have Vega's father and Carroo's mother.
The alleged victim has not been charged.
Fetky claims the alleged victim knew Turner and would have recognized him during the encounter.
Louis C. Hochman is digital managing editor for NJ1015.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LouisCHochman.