Former Beaufort High soccer standout charged with rape

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comApril 5, 2012 

A former Beaufort High School soccer standout has been arrested by North Carolina authorities and accused of raping a female acquaintance in a dormitory stairwell early Sunday.

Matthew Stewart, 21, was charged by Salisbury police with one count of second-degree sexual assault after a female acquaintance told authorities Stewart tried to kiss her then raped her at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday in the stairwell at Hollifield Residence Hall, a dorm on the campus of Catawba College, Salisbury police spokeswoman Capt. Sheila Lingle said.

Stewart and the woman, both Catawba students, attended a party together before the alleged incident, and knew each other through Stewart's girlfriend, Lingle said.

Salisbury Police were notified of the incident Monday morning, authorities said, and arrested Stewart on Tuesday. He was released from the Randolph County Detention Center after posting $50,000 bail Tuesday night, Lingle said.

He faces more than 50 years in prison, if convicted, according to state sentencing guidelines.

Before transferring to Catawba from Saint Leo University in Florida in 2010, Stewart was a soccer standout at Beaufort High School, where he earned all-region honors in 2009 and was named the Eagles' team MVP.

Stewart, an exercise science major, is a member of the Catawba men's soccer team but has been "suspended indefinitely" as a result of the arrest, sports information director Jim Lewis said Thursday. Stewart's name has been removed the roster on the team's website.

Stewart also has been barred from the Catawba campus, college spokeswoman Tonia Black-Gold said.

"As of right now, he is still a student at the college, however the terms of his bail bond ... prohibit him from being on our campus and having any contact with his alleged victim," Black-Gold said in an email. "This will prevent him from attending his classes."

Black-Gold added that the school is conducting its own review of the incident, which could result in Stewart facing penalties "up to suspension or expulsion from our institution."

Black-Gold said she did not know when the school's internal review would be completed.

Attempts Thursday to reach Stewart were unsuccessful.

He has no prior arrests in Beaufort County, according to local records.

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