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UO recruit accepts plea in groping case.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

A University of Oregon football recruit whose prospects as a player were uncertain after he was accused of groping a female student in January pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges, clearing the way for him to join the team.

Marvin Johnson, 18, of Compton, Calif., originally had been charged with first-degree sexual abuse, a Measure 11 crime, and burglary. Those charges were dropped in exchange for guilty pleas to the lesser charges of criminal trespassing and harassment. He was sentenced to probation and 30 days in jail.

Resolution of the criminal case means Johnson will join the UO football team on a full scholarship, UO media services Director Dave Williford said Monday.

Johnson and another would-be football recruit, Major Marquis Culbert, 18, of San Pedro, Calif., were charged last month. Culbert, who signed with the University of Nebraska as a defensive back, has pleaded not guilty. No court dates are set in his case.

Johnson, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has no prior criminal record, Deputy Lane County District Attorney Bob Gorham said in court.

The victim encouraged the plea bargain and agreed with it, Gorham said.

Details of the incident were not discussed.

The men were each accused of groping a Barnhart Hall resident in a dorm room while visiting campus on a recruiting trip.

The women reported the incidents to the UO's Department of Public Safety, which turned the investigation over to Eugene police.

UO officials learned of accusations against Culbert soon after the January incident and ceased efforts to recruit him.

At that time, Johnson reportedly was not directly involved and subsequently was signed to a national letter of intent. UO officials learned of his indictment in May.

Johnson was recruited as a safety.

He helped Dominguez High School in Compton to a state title in the fall, tallying at least 1,000 yards passing and rushing as a dual-threat quarterback and making five interceptions on defense.

The UO has accepted the enrollment of Johnson, who has a grade-point average of 3.2 and will graduate from high school at the end of the week, defense lawyer Bill Honsowetz said in court.

"He has learned his lesson," Honsowetz told Lane County Circuit Judge Karsten Ras- mussen.

During five years of probation, Johnson is forbidden from drinking alcohol or remaining anywhere that alcohol is served until he is 21.

He was allowed until July 6 to begin serving his jail sentence, which may include alternative programs such as road crew.

Johnson chose not to speak in court before sentencing. The victim did not attend.
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Title Annotation:Crime; With felony charges dropped, Marvin Johnson is free to join the football team
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 13, 2006
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