Smithtown lacrosse player accused in sex assault case

Smithtown East's Nick Travers, right, plays defense in

Smithtown East's Nick Travers, right, plays defense in a game against Comsewogue last year. (April 2, 2009) Photo Credit: Frank Koester

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Three lacrosse players at a Connecticut university - including one from Smithtown - have been accused of conspiring to sexually assault a female student, a charge that lawyers for two of the accused deny.

The arrest Sunday of the Sacred Heart University students in Bridgeport came after a "sophomoric prank" in a coed dorm late Saturday or early Sunday, said Wayne Keeney, who represents Timothy Sanders, 19, of Ashburn, Va.

Sanders and an 18-year-old student were having consensual sex in a loft bed when two of Sanders' fellow students "popped up" after hiding in the room or sneaking in, Keeney, of Bridgeport, said Tuesday.

Calls to Bridgeport police were not returned.

A representative of the Connecticut state attorney's office said prosecutors would not comment.

The university said privacy laws prohibit commenting on specific students, but school policy was to suspend accused students pending judicial review.

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Nicholas Travers, 19, of Smithtown, was arrested and charged along with Sanders and Zachari Triner, 18, of Mansfield, Mass., with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault. Sanders was also charged with first-degree unlawful restraint.

Keeney said Travers was misidentified and was not one of the three students present. "I don't know how this identification process took place," Keeney said. He said all three men involved had been drinking, as had the girl.

Attorney John Robert Gulash of Bridgeport, who represents Travers, said it would be inappropriate to comment. "It's in the beginning stages, and I am beginning to gather as much information as I can," he said. A Travers family member also declined to comment.

Donald Cretella Jr., the attorney representing Triner, said his client denied the charge. "He has been wrongly accused and anxiously waits for the matter to get into court so he may one day return to school and resume his life," Cretella said.

Travers and Triner each posted station house bail of $25,000 on Sunday and were released. They are to appear in court to be arraigned on Dec. 3. Sanders was arraigned Monday and pleaded not guilty. He was released after posting $15,000 bond and is due back in court on Jan. 7.

Playing for Smithtown East during the 2009 season, Travers, a midfielder, scored 20 goals and had 12 assists as the Bulls finished fourth in Suffolk Division I.

Neighbors of the Smithtown teen said he would never have taken part in such an assault.

"Nicky is the sweetest kid," said Angela Amoroso, who lives across the street from the Travers home, adding she is "100 percent sure he didn't do it. This is ridiculous."

With Zachary Dowdy and Cody Derespina

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