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Emanuel Allegedly Punched Woman : USC Tailback Faces Possible Felony Charges in Party Incident

May 07, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office will decide today whether to file felony battery charges against USC tailback Aaron Emanuel, who was accused of punching a female USC student at a party early Sunday morning.

Sharon Hatfield, a member of the USC women's track team, told Sheriff's detectives that Emanuel punched her in the face and knocked her unconscious at a party at 3625 Locksley Drive, in an unincorporated area between Arcadia and San Marino.

Hatfield's allegations have prompted an investigation by the USC Office of Student Affairs and led to Emanuel's indefinite suspension from the football team.

Coach Larry Smith said in a statement released Tuesday that Emanuel, a sophomore from Palmdale, will miss part of the 1987 season "and could miss all of the season depending on the outcome of an investigation."

Jim Dennis, vice president in charge of student affairs, said his office will conduct a review to investigate the allegations and that it has the power to expel Emanuel if it deems that action appropriate.

In a complaint filed with the Sheriff's office, Hatfield said that the alleged incident, which took place at about 2 a.m., was prompted when Emanuel pinched her on the buttocks.

Hatfield, 23, told Sheriff's investigators that she asked Emanuel to stop pinching her, but that he persisted. She said that she then threw beer in his face.

Hatfield said that Emanuel reacted by punching her in the face, knocking her unconscious, Sheriff's Detective Joe Nunez said.

Paramedics were not called, but Hatfield said she received medical attention at USC's student health center, Nunez said.

A USC football player, who asked not to be identified, said he saw Emanuel punch Hatfield. The player said he helped Hatfield to her feet and that "she was out for several seconds. I was holding her up and she couldn't stand. She was in a daze, crying and stuff."

Emanuel's teammate said that he did not see what precipitated the alleged incident, "but I saw her get punched. He (Emanuel) just hit her, and she was out."

Ted Brock, an instructor in the USC sports information program, said he had been told about the incident by someone directly involved, and that his information matched Hatfield's report.

"She said no to his coming on to her, and he pinched her (behind)," Brock said he was told by a witness. "She threw the beer at him, and he punched her."

Hatfield, who declined comment when reached by phone Wednesday night, told Nunez that her left eye had been blackened and her left cheek had been swollen by the punch. She also told investigators that she had bruised her right ankle while falling.

Brock said he had been told that Hatfield, a senior from Fountain Valley, had suffered a concussion and that her face was "purple."

The USC sports information office said that neither Smith nor Emanuel would comment on Hatfield's allegations.

"Smith has meted out his punishment and turned over the investigation to the Office of Student Affairs," an athletic department spokesman said.

Despite her injuries, Hatfield is expected to compete in the Pacific 10 track and field championships this month at Corvallis, Ore. A two-time All-American in the heptathlon, Hatfield placed ninth in the event at last year's NCAA championships in Indianapolis.

She holds the national high school and national junior records in the heptathlon, established when she was a senior at Fountain Valley High School in 1982.

Hatfield, who was actress Mariel Hemingway's athletic double in the 1982 movie, "Personal Best," placed fourth in the heptathlon at the 1984 NCAA Championships and also competed that year in the U.S. Olympic trials, failing to place among the top 20.

She tied for second place in the high jump at the USC-UCLA dual meet last Saturday at UCLA.

Emanuel, 20, started four games as a sophomore last season and gained 495 yards. After being heavily recruited out of Quartz Hill High School, he gained 472 yards as a freshman in 1985. He was hampered by injuries both seasons.

He and Ryan Knight, another veteran tailback, were expected to compete for the starting job next season, but lost out this spring to Steve Webster.

Times staff writer Robert Yount contributed to this story.

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