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Running back reportedly involved in earlier incident

October 1, 1997

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ Fresno State running back Michael Pittman, suspended for this season’s first game for allegedly fighting with a girlfriend, was involved in a similar incident three years ago, KSEE television reported Tuesday.

Pittman and a girlfriend reportedly engaged in a shoving match in his dormitory in September 1994, the station said.

However, the campus police chief at the time, Willie Shell, instructed his officers not to seek prosecution by the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, former officer Dan Horsford told KSEE. A copy of the campus police report shows that officer Jennifer Walzberg recommended battery and resisting arrest charges against Pittman.

``I was ordered not to take the case down to the DA’s office to file it,″ Horsford told KSEE reporter Dale Julin.

University vice president Ben Quillian said he was aware of the 1994 incident but doesn’t think there was any policy of protecting athletes.

``I am not aware of any action to coddle athletes,″ Quillian said. ``That has never been brought to my attention, and I will look into it.″

In the current case, Pittman has been charged with assaulting a former girlfriend on Aug. 29. He was held out of the opening game that week, but since has gained 347 yards in three games.

Shell retired as Fresno State police chief last spring and since has been charged by a female officer with harassment and by other officers, including Horsford, with discrimination.

Shell also has been charged in Kern County with embezzlement in connection with his previous job as police chief at Cal State-Bakersfield.

Shell’s lawyer declined to comment on the television station’s allegations.

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