The Daily Evergreen

Assault victim responds to arrests

DAN DOUCET, Evergreen reporter

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The new bite will take some getting used to; yawning and coughing hurt, touching the area around the injury is painful, and assault victim Alex Rodriguez can’t feel anything where the nerves are.

Aside from all this, Rodriguez said nearly two months after the July 23 incident which left his jaw broken, he is doing pretty well. He remembers Sept. 1, a Thursday, the day he was allowed to start eating solid food again instead of the previously required liquid diet, he said.

“I had pasta,” Rodriguez said, “but I had to swallow it whole, because I couldn’t chew it.”

Apart from his improving physical health, Rodriguez, a senior studying psychology and human development, said he continues to suffer emotionally. He no longer enjoys watching the Cougar football team play, he said. He can’t see himself supporting them as long as his alleged attackers, who were arrested for second-degree assault, are playing, he said.

Robert Barber and T.J. Fehoko still play in Cougar games, people still root for them, and Mike Leach still lets them play, which is the biggest slap in the face, Rodriguez said.

“It makes me question his character,” Rodriguez said, “that he’s a person that doesn’t care about the students.”

The players are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but one has been deemed guilty by the school; starting lineman Robert Barber was expelled on Thursday following a student conduct investigation into the incident. Rodriguez noted that although the school considers Barber guilty, he continues to wear WSU’s uniform and represent it.

“Emotionally, it’s been tough, since the players are still on the team,” Rodriguez said. “That almost hurts more than the injury.”

Rumors of retaliation have spread across campus, but they could have been started by people trying to stir things up, Rodriguez said. He added that he had to move out of his house because of the uncertainty.

“Rumor or not,” he said, “I’m not going to take it lightly.”

Rodriguez said he worries the players might just get suspended for a while and then be allowed to come back after taking a timeout.

“I don’t see the case as being done unless they are expelled,” Rodriguez said, “I don’t want to say it’s over until it’s officially over.”

WSU Director of Athletics Bill Moos has extended an invitation to talk with Rodriguez about the incident. Rodriguez said he plans to follow through with the meeting.

“I’d like to meet him,” Rodriguez said, “just to see what he says.”

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Assault victim responds to arrests