A Canadian university football star with a troubled history is facing criminal charges related to domestic violence, raising new questions about how McGill University recruits athletes and handles discipline.
Luis-Andres Guimont-Mota, a running back for the McGill Redmen, was arrested Wednesday afternoon after police received a call from his 21-year-old wife. The 22-year-old man appeared in court Thursday to face two charges of assault and another of uttering threats. He was released on bail.
The incident comes as football faces increased scrutiny over issues of domestic violence. The National Football League has drawn heavy criticism after incidents of family violence involving a half dozen players. The video-recorded punch that running back Ray Rice threw at his wife in an elevator was the biggest trigger for a discussion about football and domestic violence.
Mr. Guimont-Mota's lawyer said he will plead not guilty and outside court accused the player's wife of striking the running back. She alleges he pushed her. Mr. Guimont-Mota is considering filing his own complaint, according to the lawyer, Steve Hanafi.
McGill football has had other troubles, some very recent. In April, 2012, three players were charged with sexually assaulting a female Concordia student. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for later this fall. The charges became public a year after they were laid and university officials at the time said they were not aware of the incident.
The McGill football team's entire season was suspended a decade ago after the university investigated reports of hazing during the team's initiation activities.
Mr. Guimont-Mota had previous trouble with the law because of violence. McGill officials would not say Thursday if they knew about his history when they recruited him.
Last year, Mr. Guimont-Mota served a 90-day sentence for the 2010 beating of a man outside a Quebec City bar. He was allowed to serve the sentence intermittently so it would not interfere with his McGill football season in 2013, when he was the top offensive player in Quebec.
A source involved in the sentencing arrangement said the university was not part of the discussion or aware of the deal when it was struck. The news did become public before the 2013 season, however.
Mr. Guimont-Mota's lawyer lashed out at McGill for meting out a suspension before the facts are established. The university, athletic department and football team declined interview requests. A statement issued by the university said the suspension of Mr. Guimont-Mota until the case is resolved is in line with the university's varsity athletics guidelines. The code requires athletes to report any arrests, detentions or Criminal Code violations.
"What's strange here is my client is the victim and not the aggressor, unlike the [Rice] case in the United States," Mr. Hanafi said. "I don't agree with [the McGill suspension] decision. I think they acted too fast just to protect their image. They don't know the facts."
Mr. Guimont-Mota had stayed out of trouble after the 2010 assault. Vincent Cauchon, who was Mr. Guimont-Mota's position coach at Collège François-Xavier Garneau in Quebec City, described his former protégé as an outwardly placid but nonetheless quick-tempered athlete who joined the junior college team in 2010.
"It was a very trying year, there were problems both in terms of behaviour and academics," Mr. Cauchon said.
The young running back had left a prestigious Quebec City school a couple of years earlier, partly because of disciplinary problems, Mr. Cauchon said. He moved to Boca Raton, Fa., where he finished high school, evidently doing well enough academically to later qualify for admission to McGill.
"I saw his report cards from high school here," Mr. Cauchon said, "he didn't have the marks to get into McGill or anywhere else."
With a report from Simona Chiose