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St. John’s expels player following Pittsburgh after-game incident

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The alleged incident took place at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh not long after the team was defeated by the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, 71-51, Wednesday night.

Sherri Ann Urbanek-Bach of Astoria has been charged with filing fictitious reports, attempted extortion and prostitution, police said.

Junior college transfer student and senior Grady Reynolds of Abbeville, Ala. has been expelled from the university, the school has confirmed, while fellow starters Eljah Ingram, of East Orange, N.J., and Abe Keita, a native of Ivory Coast by way of Tolland, Conn., have been permanently suspended from the team and are facing imminent expulsion from the school pending a disciplinary hearing, the school said in a release.

"Although Pittsburgh police officials have not filed any charges against any basketball team member, St. John's has determined that the conduct of three players was inconsistent with the university mission and values as well as a violation of team rules," the university said in a release Thursday night. "As the university continues its investigation, more disciplinary action may be taken. St. John's continues to fully cooperate with the Pittsburgh Police Department."

Reynolds was arrested last season on charges of assaulting a member of the school's women's swim team, but was not suspended from the team for any period of time and, as part of a plea bargain agreement, attended an anger-management course.

In Wednesday's incident, Pittsburgh police said Urbanek-Bach, 38, claimed to have met the players at an adult club in the McKees Rocks suburb of Pittsburgh and accompanied the group, which included as many as six team members, back to their hotel in the downtown area.

Urbanek-Bach later called police around 4 a.m. Thursday morning, claiming she had been raped by members of the St. John's team, police said.

According to sources close to the team, Reynolds, Keita and Ingram were questioned by police and subsequently released after a recording from one of the players' cell phones confirmed that no rape had taken place.

But school officials have not softened their stance, even in the wake of learning that the sexual assault allegations have seemingly been proven false and police will not be seeking charges against any of the players involved.

In addition to Reynolds, Keita and Ingram, the school also suspended senior Mohammed Diakite and Lamont Hamilton, who were allegedly in the hotel room during the alleged incident. A sixth player, freshman Tyler Jones is facing disciplinary action to be determined by interim coach Kevin Clark, St. John's said.

The team heads into Sunday's match-up against Boston College with only five scholarship players eligible to suit up. They are Jones, sophomore Daryll Hill and seniors Andre Stanley, Kyle Cuffe and Curtis Johnson.

This has been a season rife with controversy for the beleaguered St. John's team. Senior Willie Shaw was permanently removed from the team after being arrested with former team member Marcus Hatten on a Jamaica street corner for allegedly smoking marijuana. It was Shaw's second drug-related suspension from the team.

And just six games removed from a National Invitation Tournament victory and a 2-4 start to the season, Mike Jarvis was removed as head coach at the start of his sixth season, placing Clark in his stead for the remainder of the season.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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