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Former Prep Star Charged With Sex Abuse

July 31, 1996

CHICAGO (AP) _ Ronnie Fields, a former prep star touted as an NBA prospect, has been charged with misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse along with two of his acquaintances.

In a criminal complaint, DuPage County prosecutors said the three men had sexual contact with a 20-year-old woman who was unable to give her consent on July 22. They allege the contact happened at the home of an assistant basketball coach at Farragut High School, where Fields went to school.

Fields, 19, was released on a personal recognizance bond Tuesday after a hearing in DuPage County Circuit Court, along with his 19-year-old and 29-year-old acquaintances.

``All three men are maintaining their innocence,″ said Richard Kayne, a lawyer representing the trio.

It was just the latest trouble for Fields, a three-time all-state guard who averaged more than 30 points and 10 rebounds a game last season at Farragut.

On Feb. 26, Fields broke three vertebrae when a car he was driving went off the road, ending speculation that he would turn pro this year. He recovered quickly, began playing exhibition basketball this summer and signed a letter of intent to play for DePaul University.

Last week, he was denied admission because his grades and test scores were too low.

Fields declined to comment after his court hearing Tuesday.

Ron Eskridge, the assistant coach, said he was in Georgia at the time of the incident. He said Fields is upset.

``His involvement in it was something he didn’t even realize was involvement,″ Eskridge said. ``He feels he didn’t do anything.″

Eskridge also provided Fields with the rental car in which he had his accident.

Farragut principal Edward Guerra said Eskridge’s role as an assistant coach ``is being reviewed right now.″

If convicted, each man could be sentenced to one year in prison and fined up to $1,000.

Arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 27.

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