Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Douglas Krouse Jr. enters Rutland criminal court Monday.
Two Castleton State College basketball players — one of whom has since been expelled — allegedly assaulted two fellow students, one of whom might need facial reconstructive surgery.
Monday afternoon, Douglas D. Krouse Jr., 21, of Reading, Pa., pleaded innocent in Rutland criminal court to a felony charge of aggravated assault and a misdemeanor charge of simple assault.
Christopher B. Barletta, 20, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., was arraigned last week on felony and misdemeanor assault charges. He was released on $5,000 bail and has been expelled from school.
During Krouse’s arraignment, his attorney said police had charged the wrong man.
“I think the case was rushed in here a little too quickly,” said defense attorney Matthew Branchaud. “This is a case of mistaken identity.”
According to court records, in the early-morning hours of Jan. 27, CSC student Joshua Mannings, 19, was in a dormitory when he had what police called “an exchange of words” with Barletta.
During a scuffle between the two, records state, Barletta bit Mannings’ arm. Later, records state, Mannings left and while outside Haskell Hall, he was punched in the face by Krouse, police said.
Mannings then called his friend, Nicholas Bruch, 18, who agreed to meet Mannings near the Rail Trail, records state. When Bruch arrived, Mannings was nowhere to be found. Instead two men emerged from the woods and ran toward Bruch, one approaching face-to-face and the other from behind, according to police affidavits. One man punched Bruch, who hit the ground, and both men kicked him in the ribs.
Bruch sought medical attention and learned his eye socket was broken and would have to meet with a specialist after the swelling recedes for possible reconstructive surgery, records state.
Both men immediately identified Barletta as one of the assailants.
Barletta is not listed on the team roster and he did not play in the last two games over the weekend. He played his last game Jan. 26, when as a starting guard he scored 14 points and eight assists in a 102-94 loss to University of Maine at Farmington.
Neither Mannings nor Bruch immediately identified Krouse as the second assailant with 100 percent certainty, records state.
Bruch initially said he thought Krouse was the second attacker, but only told police he was certain after seeing Krouse in the campus dining hall Saturday, police said. Mannings could not identify his alleged assailant until he saw a picture of Krouse, according to police affidavits.
Krouse is still on the team roster and played two minutes in a 74-60 win Friday night over Maine Maritime Academy.
Unlike Barletta, Krouse’s court-imposed conditions of release do not bar him from the CSC campus, but do prohibit him from contacting Bruch or Mannings.
CSC spokesman Jeff Weld said Barletta is longer on campus, barring him from participating in college sports.
“We are working with local law enforcement and allowing the judicial process to work itself out,” he said.
Herald reporter Lucia Suarez contributed to this story.
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