A Lehigh University football player charged with assaulting a fellow student, causing facial fractures, was accepted Wednesday into a first-offender program that will allow him to avoid a criminal record.

Though 22-year-old Thomas Zuewsky was accused of aggravated assault, he was able to convince Northampton County prosecutors that he wasn’t the aggressor in the October confrontation at a backyard party.

“Just an unfortunate situation,” was how Assistant District Attorney Abraham Kassis described it.

Under the terms of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, Zuewsky will see his record expunged provided he completes six months of probation and pays court fees and nearly $1,300 in restitution for the other student’s medical bills.

Zuewsky, a senior from Woodbourne, N.Y., who is majoring in business, remains listed on the football team’s roster as an offensive lineman, according to Lehigh’s athletics website.

His defense lawyers say he was cleared by an internal investigation conducted by the university, which found that others at the party “have responsibility for the altercation,” according to a January legal filing.

“Based on the testimony provided, the panel believes it is more likely than not that Thomas did not actually throw a punch,” the Lehigh University Committee for Discipline found, according to Zuewsky’s defense. “Rather we believe that it is more likely that Thomas’ testimony that he stiff armed [the other student] is what happened.”

Police said the assault occurred early Oct. 27 at an address on the 600 block of Pierce Street.

Aryaan Saigal, 19, was injured after stepping between Zuewsky and another man as they seemingly prepared to fight, police said. After being struck, Saigal fell to the ground, unconscious. Doctors determined he had facial fractures, police said.

District Attorney John Morganelli said he initially denied Zuewsky’s application for the first-offender program, given the extent of Saigal’s injury. But he said he reconsidered after Saigal signed off on the resolution, and prosecutors received information suggesting Zuewsky didn’t initiate the confrontation.

Defense attorney Joshua Fulmer said Zuewsky always claimed it was an accident.

“My client said from the beginning that he was just trying to keep people off of him,” Fulmer said Wednesday.


Twitter @riley_yates


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