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Judge Criticizes Coach Strong After Second USF Player Arrested

10 News WTSP-TV
Hillsborough County judge scolded both LaDarrius Jackson and USF football coach Charlie Strong during a hearing for Jackson. The junior defensive end is accused of committing sexual battery against another student Monday.

UPDATED 5/4 4:00 P.M.
The judge who questioned University of South Florida football coach Charlie Strong's control of the program following the arrests of two players has recused herself from one of their cases. 

ESPN reports that Hillsborough County judge and USF alumna Margaret Taylor submitted an order of disqualification Thursday morning after her earlier comments received national attention. Filing such an order removes her from as the judge in the LaDarrius Jackson case.  

A judge in a case involving a University of South Florida athlete questioned football Coach Charlie Strong's control of the program Wednesday.

Junior defensive end LaDarrius Jackson, 22, is accused of sexual batteryof a fellow student. At his first court appearance, 10 News WTSP reported Hillsborough County judge and USF alumna Margaret Taylor blasted Jackson before taking the new football coach to task.

"Mr. Jackson...if these allegations against you are true, I must say that your behavior is nothing short of outrageous," Taylor said. "I graduated from USF in 1989, long before there was a football team. And while USF may not be the top-ranked school in the nation, I was never ashamed of being an alum until now. I'm embarrassed and ashamed, Mr. Jackson. Let's just say my USF diploma is not proudly hanging in my office right now."

According to a USF Police report, Jackson, 22, pushed the victim, who he knew, into a room in a residence hall, Holly Drive Apartments Building A, around 2:30 p.m. Monday. The woman says she attempted to prevent that by putting her hands on the walls. Jackson then allegedly sexually battered the victim inside the room.

The report said that the victim didn't attempt to leave because she was afraid Jackson was going to physically stop her. Jackson is being held on a $102,000 bond.

Taylor then turned her attention to the football coach, who wasn't in the courtroom at the time.

"Coach Strong, if you are listening, in the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies. This court, and I'm sure I'm not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It's fairly clear you do not have control of them off the field, and I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.

"I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being head coach at USF is a good fit for you before any other members of this community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players."

USF Athletics released a statement from Strong a short time later, expressing shock and disappointment in the arrests of Jackson and Hassan Childs, who faces charges after pointing a gun at another driver in Tampa in March. That other driver shot Childs three times.

“In the short time I have been here our program has been built on character, discipline and family. We have wonderful young men in the USF football program who choose to do the right thing every day. We are dedicated to recruiting young men of high character, and to consistently developing them with structure and frequent education regarding appropriate conduct and behavior, on and off the playing field."
"While I am shocked and saddened at the recent arrest of a member of our team, I am disappointed that the actions of two players over the last two months have harmed the reputation of our program, of our wonderful university and of my character.  We have high expectations of our coaches, staff and student-athletes and we hold accountable those who act contrary to our values.”

Both players were recruited by USF before Strong was hired last December. He replaced Willie Taggart, who was hired to be the head coach at the University of Oregon.

Strong dismissed Childs from the team shortly after he was charged. Jackson, a junior defensive end from Birmingham, Alabama, has been removed from all football team activities for the time being.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.