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Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mikeperlstein

NEWORLEANS-- Tulane senior running back Robert Kelley is facing criminal charges of simple robbery and simple battery after allegedly beating a fellow Tulane student and stealing his bicycle.

Kelley, 21, was booked on Aug. 4, then freed after posting a $10,000 bond, court records show.

The former freshman phenom, expected to be the team's starting running back this season, had been absent since spring drills last year with what Coach

Curtis Johnson described as academic problems. Kelley's problems have now escalated into battling felony charges to which he confessed to police, according to an NOPD arrest warrant application.

Police said the battery and robbery unfolded shortly after midnight July 30 outside of The Boot, the popular Tulane hangout adjacent to campus on Broadway.

According to the warrant application, the victim and a friend 'were approached by a group of Tulane football players,' including Kelley. The victim reported that after some rough-housing, somebody took his bike and placed in a portable toilet 'to mess with him.'

After retrieving his bike and leaving the area, the victim reported that Kelley
followed him.

'Mr. Kelley became angry and punched (the victim) in his right abdomen area,' Detective Sgt. Scott Meunier wrote. '(The victim) advised that he fell to the ground in pain and Mr. Kelley jumped on top of him and began to beat him.'

The victim reported suffering from scrapes, abrasions and ripped clothing.

That same night, Kelley retrieved his bicycle near the college dormitories, only to have Kelley pounce on him and take the bike for good.

According to Sgt. Meunier, Kelley later confessed.

'I then interviewed the suspect, Mr. Robert Kelley, who admitted taking the bicycle from the victim and hiding it. He also admitted to receiving a telephone call from the victim asking for his property back and advised that he hung up on him.'

Kelley's attorneys, Scott Bickford, said he expects his client to be vindicated.

'The allegations that Robert Kelley intended to rob or harm the alleged victim are not supported by credible evidence,' Bickford said. 'The alleged victim knows Mr. Kelley and has spent time with Mr. Kelley as well as multiple member s of the Tulane football team. There was never any intent by Mr. Kelley to either harm the alleged victim or deprive him of his property.'

Bickford acknowledged that a crime was committed, but he maintains it was not by Kelley.

'We do believe that the alleged victim was harmed and struck by other persons later that evening,' he said. 'And we believe that other incident is supported by credible evidence. However, Mr. Kelley was not present or in any way involved in that other incident.'

Kelley has been suspended from the team, a Tulane spokesperson said. His status at the university was not been disclosed.

Kelley is due back in court on Sept. 9 for a status hearing.

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