Pierce given deferred judgment on assault charge

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa basketball player Pierre Pierce was placed on probation for a year Friday in a plea agreement after being charged with sexual assault last month.

A sophomore guard, Pierce was given a deferred sentence and placed on probation, according to papers filed in Johnson County District Court.

The deferred sentence means the charge would be expunged from Pierce's record if he completes the requirements of the plea agreement.

Pierce had been charged with third-degree sexual assault for allegedly performing unwanted sex acts on a female acquaintance at a party at his Iowa City apartment Sept. 7.

The 19-year-old player also must perform 200 hours of community service.

He did not appear in court. Attorneys filed a written plea and
sentence order instead. He also didn't attend a press conference
called by his attorneys Friday. But Roxanne Conlin, a Des Moines
attorney who acted as mediator, read an apology from Pierce.

"On September seventh, I engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with a fellow student. I have privately apologized to my fellow student. And today I publicly apologize as well,'' Conlin read.

Pierce, who led the Hawkeyes in assists last season, was
suspended from the team by Iowa athletics director Bob Bowlsby, with
the support of coach Steve Alford.

"This has been an enormously awkward and challenging situation
that has resulted in an agreement acceptable to all of those
involved,'' Bowlsby said in a statement. "We will now turn our
attention toward helping everyone move forward.''

Bowlsby also said Pierce "will be withheld from competition
during the 2002-03 season while he fulfills his obligations through
the legal system.''

Alford said this has been a difficult situation for everyone.

"Unfortunately, two young lives have been affected and we can only hope this resolution allows all parties involved to move forward in a positive direction,'' Alford said.

Pierce initially pleaded innocent, was freed on bond and was in the process of appealing the suspension to a university board.