Sunday, November 10, 2002

Dayton player's parents don't believe son lied

The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - The parents of a former University of Dayton basketball player who said he was abducted by a gunman before managing to escape don't believe their son made the story up.

"I have not wavered in my trust and confidence in Sam, and I have not changed my mind," Sammy Smith's father, Michael Smith, of the Columbus suburb of Westerville, said Friday.

The University of Dayton held a news conference Thursday saying that its public safety department, the FBI and the Dayton police department investigated the alleged abduction and determined it never happened.

Bruce Burt, the university's director of public safety, said a lie-detector test administered to Smith did not support the abduction story. Burt also said that the basketball player admitted making up the story.

Smith told reporters on Thursday that he signed a confession to get the matter behind him after authorities pressured him.

Burt wouldn't describe the circumstances under which Smith confessed, but Smith's mother, Debby, said her son didn't have a lawyer when he was questioned.

Smith, an honor student and a junior forward, was reported missing after failing to attend classes or two basketball practices Oct. 17. The following night he flagged down a patrolman in Lake Worth, Texas, telling him he had been abducted and forced to drive at gunpoint until his escape.

Michael Smith flew to Fort Worth the next day and made the drive home to Ohio with his son over two days. Smith's father said Friday that his son has never deviated from his story.

"Sammy just wants to get this behind him," Michael Smith said. "He doesn't want us to talk to the media about it."

The 6-foot-5 Smith has not practiced with the team since Oct. 17. On Monday, he was granted a release from the university that will allow him to transfer.

Smith is a graduate of Worthington Christian High School. He played in 46 games in his two seasons at Dayton and averaged 1.2 points.

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