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ECC BASKETBALL COACH REMOVED OVER CHARGES OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Erie Community College has removed Alexander I. Nwora as its men's basketball coach and placed him in an administrative job after the college learned he is awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing an ECC student, college officials said.

Nwora, coach since 1999, was arraigned in May on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse after a grand jury indictment, according to the Erie County District Attorney's Office.

The charges stem from an October 2002 incident. Nwora was allowed to continue to coach, college officials say, because no one from the Buffalo Police Department, the district attorney's office or the county attorney's office informed them he had been charged with a crime.

"We thought everything was resolved. We're taking action now because there's still legal litigation going on," said Daniel Penfold, ECC's executive vice president for student affairs.

A county official confirmed that the alleged victim also has filed a civil suit related to the incident, but could not provide further details.

Nwora has been reassigned with pay to administrative duties on ECC's North Campus in Amherst, where he will have no contact with students, until the criminal case is resolved, Penfold said.

His trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 22 before Erie County Judge Shirley Troutman.

An assistant coach on the men's team, Brian Brown, took over Nwora's head coaching duties as of Friday.

The charges stem from an incident first reported in October 2002. The Police Department's Sex Offenses Squad and the district attorney's office declined to release details of the incident because, respectively, Lt. David Mann and District Attorney Frank J. Clark were out of the office Friday.

The ECC student brought a complaint to Booker Edgerson, ECC's director of equity and diversity, who started an investigation, Penfold said.

Edgerson ended that investigation, Penfold said, when Buffalo police informed the college they were launching a criminal probe.

The college has heard nothing else about the matter since October 2002, Penfold said. Edgerson did call Buffalo police investigators several times late that year to follow up, but his phone calls weren't returned.

Nwora did not inform college officials of his indictment and arraignment, Penfold said.

ECC officials didn't learn of the charges against Nwora until a reporter called President William J. Mariani late Thursday.

Nwora, an Amherst resident, did not return a call seeking comment.

Nwora left his native Nigeria at age 18 and played basketball at Daemen College for four years.
e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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