Assault charges against former student withdrawn in May, lawsuit against school and additional parties filed

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On the night of April 7 at Julian’s Bar and Grill, an Allegheny alumnus, ’17, was assaulted and later sent to UPMC Hamot in Erie for immediate surgery. On April 11, a former Allegheny student was arrested by Meadville City Police Department for his alleged role in the assault.

All charges against the former student, Kobe Pinkney, were withdrawn on May 14. Pinkney has filed a lawsuit against Allegheny College, the City of Meadville and seven additional parties in response to the charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, and harassment and disorderly conduct.

Two requests for comment regarding the April 7 assault sent to Police Chief Michael Tautin were unsuccessful.

“Due to ongoing litigation concerning this case I am unable to grant your request for an interview,” Tautin wrote in an email to The Campus.

Pinkney’s arrest took place a day after the interview of a witness by Meadville city police in the Office of Public Safety. On April 11, Interim Director of Public Safety William Merchbaker removed Pinkney from his philosophy class. He was then taken into custody by Meadville city police prior to being arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Samuel Pendolino.

Pinkney filed a lawsuit against Allegheny College, the City of Meadville, Tautin, Patrolman Jared Frum, Merchbaker, First Assistant District Attorney Paula Digiacomo, The Meadville Tribune, Community Newspaper Holding Inc., the company that owns the Tribune, and Tribune reporter Keith Gushard, on June 6. He is suing on 10 counts, including false arrest, false imprisonment and racial discrimination in violation of his civil rights.

In an email to The Campus, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Eileen Petula declined to comment on the lawsuit, stating, “The College is not able to comment on legal matters.”

The witness interviewed by the Office of Public Safety said they were waiting in line for the restroom at Julian’s when “an African-American male approximately six-feet tall with braided hair” approached the Allegheny alumnus, tapped him on the shoulder and then punched the left side of the man’s face, according to the probable cause affidavit filed by police in the case. The alumnus was taken to Meadville Medical Center and later transferred to UPMC Hamot for immediate surgery, according to the affidavit.

The witness later identified Pinkney from a photograph as the male responsible for assaulting the alumnus, according to the affidavit. Pinkney was placed in the Crawford County jail, but posted $5,000 bond later that day, according to online jail records.

A preliminary hearing before Pendolino was originally scheduled for April 25, but later postponed until May 22. However, the hearing was cancelled when the charges were withdrawn on May 14.

The lawsuit alleges Pinkney was not present at Julian’s Bar and Grill when the attack occurred. Specifically, it states Pinkney’s mother provided a McDonald’s receipt “which had a stamped date and time of (1 a.m. April 7), which was coincident with the date and time of the assault against (the alumnus).”

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