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Former Girlfriend’s Lawsuit Accuses Phillips of Sexual Assault

September 4, 1996 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A former girlfriend of Lawrence Phillips is accusing the St. Louis Rams running back of beating, threatening and sexually assaulting her during their two-year relationship at the University of Nebraska, a lawsuit said.

Kate McEwen, of Topeka, Kan., filed the lawsuit Aug. 16 in Jackson County Circuit Court, and it remained sealed until Tuesday, The Kansas City Star reported in today’s editions.

A judge briefly opened the lawsuit and then resealed it, The Star reported.

Phillips, a former Nebraska football star, had pleaded no contest to misdemeanor trespassing and assault for a Sept. 10, 1995, attack on McEwen, a former Nebraska basketball player. He was not charged with any sex crimes at the time.

McEwen’s civil lawsuit alleges a broader pattern of abuse than the September 1995 incident. The lawsuit states that Phillips beat and threatened McEwen and reconciled with her repeatedly after the two started dating in August 1993.

McEwen’s lawsuit asks for unspecified actual and punitive damages for sexual assault, battery, kidnapping, assault, false imprisonment, emotional distress and the violation of her rights.

The lawsuit said she did not tell Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne about the alleged sexual assault, but gave no reason.

Phillips was suspended by Osborne for six games for the September attack, and a Nebraska judge placed Phillips on probation for a year _ punishments that drew nationwide criticism. Some women’s groups wanted more severe retribution.

In July, Phillips signed a three-year contract with the Rams worth $5.625 million. He was their top draft pick and the sixth overall in the April NFL draft.

In her lawsuit, McEwen contends Phillips started cursing her, controlling her movements and threatening her shortly after they began dating. It was not immediately clear why lawyers filed the lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court in Kansas City.

On Aug. 16, lawyers successfully requested the lawsuit be sealed until Aug. 23, while they worked on a settlement, The Star reported. Circuit Judge William F. Mauer, who received the case this month, ordered it unsealed Tuesday, then resealed at lawyers’ request.

Kansas City attorney Victor Bergman, who is representing McEwen, declined to comment to The Star. He did not immediately return phone calls made late Tuesday by The Associated Press.

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Phillips’ lawyer and agent, Mitch Frankel, also did not return telephone calls by The Associated Press.

A Rams spokesman told The Associated Press on Tuesday the team would have no immediate comment.

Other allegations contained in the lawsuit include:

_In October 1994, Phillips allegedly shoved McEwen’s head into a wall so hard it broke through the wall, then choked her and would not allow her to leave his apartment.

_In April 1995, Phillips asked her if she was dating anyone else and allegedly threatened her saying, ``I’m going to shoot you in the kneecaps and then shoot you in the elbows. This is Los Angeles gang style of dealing with people.″

_On May 10, 1995, Phillips allegedly slashed her car tires and threatened to kill her after he demanded a glass of water and McEwen told him to get it himself.

_On Aug. 24, 1995, McEwen agreed to drive Phillips, who was drunk, home to his apartment where, allegedly, he forced her to stay and sexually assaulted her.

_On Sept. 10, 1995, Phillips allegedly beat her and kicked her while she was at a friend’s house. McEwen contends he then grabbed her hair, ``caveman style,″ pulled her down three flights of steps and slammed her head into a wall.

Phillips also faces a criminal drunken driving charge in California. Police say he was driving a Mercedes with a flat tire as fast as 80 mph on June 13. That case was scheduled to be heard Sept. 30 in Los Angeles, and could endanger his probation in connection with the September assault.