Former Beaufort High soccer standout charged with rape still barred from college campus

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comJuly 26, 2012 

Former Beaufort High School soccer standout Matthew Stewart is not enrolled at the North Carolina college where he was accused in April of sexually assaulting a fellow student in a dormitory stairwell, college officials say.

Matthew Stewart, 21, is "not currently attending (Catawba College)," where he had been an exercise-science major and member of the men's soccer team before the alleged April 3 assault, Tonia Black-Gold, college spokeswoman, said.

Registration for returning students and the first day of classes is Aug. 15, according to the school's website; its men's soccer season begins Aug. 30.

Black-Gold declined to say whether Stewart withdrew from Catawba, has not re-enrolled or was expelled as result of an internal review of the alleged incident, citing college policy and federal privacy regulations that prevent the release of a student's school records.

Stewart was charged with one count of second-degree sexual assault after a female acquaintance told authorities Stewart tried to kiss her then raped her in the stairwell of Hollifield Residence Hall dormitory, Salisbury police Capt. Sheila Lingle said.

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

Stewart was released after posting $50,000 bail the same day he was arrested, but a condition of his bond was no contact with his victim or travel onto the Catawba campus, according to police and college officials.

Black-Gold said Stewart remains prohibited from school grounds until the felony charge is resolved.

The charge, which carries a 50-year prison sentence, is still pending, according to a spokeswoman for the Rowan County District Attorney's Office. It is unknown when the case might go to trial.

Stewart was "suspended indefinitely" from the men's soccer team and was not on a team roster recently submitted to Catawba's athletic department, said sports information director Jim Lewis.

Lewis said he did not know if the suspension was still in place or if Stewart had been dismissed from the team.

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

Attempts this week to reach Stewart were unsuccessful.

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