Friday, December 14, 2001

3 Wildcats plead not guilty to arson

Dorm fire not only charge against Hamblen

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON, Ky. — Three University of Kentucky football players charged in connection with a fire in a dormitory pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree arson charges.

        The three players, all freshmen who were redshirted this season, remained in the Fayette County Detention Center on Thursday afternoon, a jail spokesman said. Bond was set at $5,000 each.

        Two players, 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back Brett Hamblen, 19, and 6-3, 235-pound defensive lineman Ben Scott, 19, played at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky. The third, Jeremy Darveau, 20, is a 6-foot-8, 300-pound offensive lineman from Hilton Head, S.C.

        The three turned themselves in to university police and were taken to the Fayette County Detention Center on Wednesday, UK spokesman Ralph Derickson said.

        Hamblen also faces charges in Hamilton County, Ohio. He was arrested July 31 for misdemeanor assault. The police report said Hamblen repeatedly hit and kicked a person, who fell unconscious. The report said Hamblen continued to kick the person in the head. That case is still pending.

        Kentucky coach Guy Morriss said in a statement Wednesday that he was aware of the arson charges. The statement said Morriss had suspended all three players indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation. There was no further comment from the school Thursday.

        Derickson said there would be no action taken as far as the players' standing as students until the “adjudication of the criminal charges.”

        Kirwan I Tower, an all-male dormitory on the south end of campus, was evacuated following the fire early Tuesday morning, Derickson said. About 166 students live in the dorm.

        A fire began at around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday on a bulletin board on the second floor, Derickson said. Two residence hall directors extinguished the fire with buckets of water, he said. A second fire, on the third floor, was started in a trash can in a bathroom, but it burned out on its own, he said.

        No injuries were reported, fire investigators said.


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