Hale, Ward plead not guilty to felony assault charges

LOS ANGELES -- UCLA linebacker John Hale and defensive tackle Jess Ward pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony assault charges, stemming from a February altercation at Ward's parents' home.

The freshmen turned themselves in to court officials in San Bernardino County when they learned warrants for their arrest had been issued the previous day, UCLA sports information director Marc
Dellins said.

Hale had 20 tackles while playing in 11 of the Bruins' 12 games last season, including seven starts. Ward redshirted.

A call to Michael Berger, the attorney for Hale and Ward, was not immediately returned.

A call to the San Bernardino County district attorney's office
after business hours was not returned. Cindy Beavers, a spokeswoman
for the San Bernardino County sheriff's department, said she was
not aware of the case, adding that there were no records of Hale
and Ward being booked at sheriff's facilities.

Ward's family lives in Running Springs, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The altercation involved guests at the house, and, according to UCLA, two other men were arrested the day after it happened.

"We are aware of the circumstances that occurred in Jess' parents' home," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "John and Jess called me the day after the incident and told me what happened. It appears that John and Jess were not involved in the altercation other than trying to move it out of the house.

"Based on the information available to us, we have decided to wait until the outcome of the legal process to impose any disciplinary action," he said.