The criminal charges facing three Oregon State University football players in connection with a weekend bar fight in Corvallis were downgraded to misdemeanors Monday, but the three were suspended from the team.
The players — Rudolf Fifita, Mana Rosa and Dyllon Mafi — spent the weekend in jail after initially being charged with felony charges of third-degree assault in the wake of the fight, which occurred in the early morning hours Saturday.
But the charges were downgraded to fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, at arraignment. The players also face misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges. Mafi, 20, is additionally charged with using a fake ID.
No pleas were entered, and the three were scheduled to appear again in court on Jan. 10.
Fifita, Rosa and Mafi were released on the condition they don’t drink alcohol or contact either of the two alleged victims. Several teammates waited outside the jail to meet them and show support.
“It’s a tough situation,” senior cornerback Jordan Poyer said. “I don’t know the whole story. My prayers are for them. They are good friends and teammates. They are not typical type of guys (to do this).”
The players appeared in court from jail through a video link. Fifita, 26, had a court-appointed attorney, and Rosa, 21, retained attorney Jeff Jones of Salem. Mafi appeared without representation but said he was going to sign up for a court-appointed attorney.
“Because of the nature of assaults in bars, generally speaking, when we have an incident that involves a bar fight, we will charge conservatively until we have had a chance to review all the information,” said Chris Stringer, the chief deputy district attorney for Benton County.
He added that the District Attorney’s Office typically is cautious about charging people in bar fights. Among the concerns prosecutors face in such cases is the fact that, oftentimes, witnesses were drinking before the incident occurred.
Coach Mike Riley did not set a timetable for the length of the players’ suspensions but said he doesn’t think their status is going to change soon.
“It’s horrible,” Riley said. “They are suspended right now and will remain that way. I haven’t had a chance to speak with them. That’s all I know right now.”
“All these things are about choices,” Riley added. “All the guys make their own beds, so to speak. Not too much good happens at that time of day.”
Fifita, Rosa and Mafi were not at the team’s first practice on Monday as the Beavers prepare for the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl.
The three were arrested at 2:20 a.m. Saturday outside the Impulse Bar and Grill, 1425 N.W. Monroe Ave.
According to an affidavit filed in connection with the charges, the players got into an argument with Cody Goller and Cory Hull. The dispute escalated, and the three players allegedly struck the two men with their fists in the bar’s restroom. In the report, Officer Michael Withington noted that both victims had visible facial injuries.
The Beavers were off last week during finals.
Losing Fifita, a senior defensive end, is the biggest blow to the team. He played a significant role in the defensive line rotation, coming off the bench. Mafi and Rosa, both juniors, are reserve players.
“It will affect the rotation, but I don’t know for sure how yet,” Riley said. “Someone else will step in. It’s not going to cost us the game.”
Riley told players about the situation, and some had heard stories.
Poyer said the incident will not distract the team as it gets ready for the bowl game.
“Once we see them again, they’ll tell us what happened,” Poyer said. “It may have gotten blown out of proportion.”
Gazette-Times reporter Canda Fuqua contributed to this story.