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UCLA’s Eric Whitfield Faces Charges

December 1, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ UCLA defensive back Eric Whitfield faces battery charges stemming from an off-campus brawl, but tailback Jermaine Lewis is no longer under investigation by the city attorney’s office for his involvement in the fight.

Whitfield was suspended indefinitely on Monday by coach Bob Toledo. He faces up to six months in jail, or a $1,000 fine for the single misdemeanor battery charge. His arraignment was scheduled for Dec. 21.

Whitfield did not attend practice and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lewis earlier was suspended for one game for his involvement in the fight at an off-campus party on Oct. 4.

Elonza Malone III had filed a police report saying he had been hit ``multiple times″ at the party and identified Lewis as one of the people who hit him.

Lewis said he was provoked, a story substantiated by some teammates.

The university police turned the case over to the city attorney’s office, which decided not to file charges against Lewis or Malone.

But Peter Covette, a supervising attorney for the West Los Angeles branch of the city attorney’s office, said witnesses reported that Whitfield was part of another fight with Malone at the same party.

Whitfield, who had started the first two games at free safety but was the backup cornerback at the time of his suspension, had not come forward about his role in the fights. Only recently did he speak to Toledo about the incident.

Lewis said he is glad the case against him is finally closed.

``It has taken a lot of stress off my shoulders,″ Lewis said. ``Now I can start playing with a clear head.″

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