Marshall University football running back Steward Butler has been arrested in conjunction with the April 5 beating of two gay men in Huntington, W.V., where Marshall is located. Butler turned himself into police Wednesday morning, according to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch.
The charges stem from the April 5 beating of two men, moments after they kissed at 5th Avenue and 9th Street in Huntington. Criminal complaints charge Butler witnessed the kiss, exited a passing vehicle and proceeded to shout derogatory words toward both men related to their sexual orientation.
Butler then struck the face of both victims with a closed fist, the complaints charge.
Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry, who said one of the victims captured the attack on video, called the beating unfortunate. He said the victims, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to live their life without such violence.
The junior running back has averaged seven yards per carry in his three seasons with the Marshall football team, scoring 13 rushing touchdowns. The Thundering Herd finished 13-1 last season.
If the allegations are true, Butler has likely played his last down of football given there are Federal hate crimes statutes involved. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 makes attacks such as this, if based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, a Federal hate crime.
The athletic department has said they will handle the situation "internally." Hopefully they handle it "publicly" as well.