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Nebraska Running Back Phillips Sentenced to Probation for Assault

December 5, 1995

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A star University of Nebraska football player once mentioned as a Heisman Trophy possibility was sentenced today to one year of probation for assaulting his former girlfriend.

Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips, who initially was dismissed from the defending national championship team but later allowed to return, also was ordered to attend a domestic violence prevention class and pay about $350 in restitution.

He must pay his former girlfriend Kate McEwen $247.84, which is what her medical bill totaled, and pay the owner of the building where the assault happened $110.80, the amount of damage to mailboxes.

Phillips had pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and trespassing charges for the Sept. 10 attack on McEwen, a Nebraska women’s basketball player.

Police and prosecutors said Phillips broke into an apartment and attacked McEwen with his hands, dragging her down the stairs. She was treated at a hospital and released. She has since returned to school in Lincoln where she is a member of the women’s basketball team.

The incident destroyed the Heisman Trophy hopes of Phillips, a 6-foot, 215-pound star from West Covina, Calif. Coach Tom Osborne initially dismissed Phillips from the team but later called it an indefinite suspension; he allowed Phillips to rejoin the team on Oct. 24. Some feminists criticized the decision, saying that abuse of women was a serious offense.

Phillips left the court today without commenting.

When Phillips’ probation expires a year from now, he could face 30 days in jail, but the judge said that would be waived if the probation was completed successfully. Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Nancy Wynner said the state recommended and agreed to the probation.

Top-ranked Nebraska faces No. 2 Florida in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.

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