Associated Press Published

Ex-player at Center of West Virginia Case on Gay Rights

Steward Butler

The West Virginia Supreme Court is being asked if a former Marshall University football player can be charged with violating the civil rights of two gay men he is accused of assaulting after he saw them kissing on a city street.

The Herald-Dispatch reports that the request is from Cabell County Circuit Court in the case of Steward Butler. The 24-year-old running back has pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony civil rights violations stemming from the alleged April incident.

The lower court is asking the justices whether the state’s civil rights code includes violent actions directed at another person based solely on sexual orientation.

Prosecutors contend the violation is based on the victim’s sex, not sexual orientation.

A tentative trial date of Jan. 26 has been scheduled.