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Kin of Running Back Accuser Speaks

July 10, 1998

MIAMI (AP) _ The woman who claims Miami Dolphins running back Lawrence Phillips punched her in the face at a nightclub is likely to lose a tooth as a result of the incident, her sister said in a report published Friday.

Saglenda Johnson, who shares a West Palm Beach apartment with accuser Michelle Black, told The Miami Herald that there was no mistaking Phillips after the June 27 encounter at the Brickhouse Restaurant & Lounge in Plantation, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale.

``No one was standing near my sister but me and the guy who hit her,″ Johnson told the newspaper.

``We didn’t just make that up,″ she added. ``We didn’t point someone out of the blue. We pointed out the person who hit her.″

Black sustained a chipped tooth and a cut lip, and told authorities she temporarily blacked out. She was taken to Plantation General Hospital, where police took four photos of her injuries.

Johnson said her sister also had damage to another tooth, which she said ``has turned black. It’s actually dead.″

Phillips, who pleaded no contest to assaulting a former girlfriend while in college, has asserted his innocence to Dolphins officials. Coach Jimmy Johnson issued a statement Monday saying the incident was ``history,″ as far as the club was concerned.

``After gathering all the information I could and after talking with Lawrence, I believe the information that he presented to me and that he didn’t do anything wrong,″ Jimmy Johnson said.

Saglenda Johnson said she got ``sick″ when told of Phillips’ response.

``I’m so disgusted that my stomach hurts,″ she said. ``I get sick that he would punch my sister and that he would say we made it up and that he’s not in jail. Why would we make up something like that?″

Plantation police are investigating the incident and will forward their findings to the state attorney’s office.

Police said the investigation centers on a charge of simple battery, though more severe charges could be brought. No timetable has been given on when the investigation would be completed.

Clinton Pitts, Black’s attorney, said he has four witnesses who have corroborated the account of his client and her sister. Three others have yet to be interviewed, he said.

``If my case turns out as strong as it is at this point,″ Pitts said, ``I would think that Phillips and his lawyer might want to sit down with us and try and work this thing out.″

Phillips’ attorney, Roy Black Jr., of Miami, has not commented on the case.

Phillips, 23, joined the Dolphins on Dec. 2 after being released by St. Louis. The Rams took him as the sixth overall in the 1996 draft, but he was arrested three times and spent 23 days in jail during 19 months with the team.

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