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Penn State TE Theo Johnson to Waive Preliminary Hearing in Assault Case

Penn State Nittany Lions tight end Theo Johnson (84) November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

Update (1:54 p.m.)— Theo Johnson didn’t appear in court Monday via Zoom due to technical issues, his attorney, Jason Dunkle. Dunkle told Nittany Sports Now that he’s trying to reschedule for Tuesday, May 23

Penn State tight end Theo Johnson will waive his right to a preliminary hearing in the assault case against him, attorney, Jason Dunkle of JD Law in State College, told Nittany Sports Now Monday morning.

Johnson was charged last month with two misdemeanors after allegedly punching a man in the face at a State College fraternity Feb. 11. The hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday morning.

 Johnson will appear in front of magistrate Donald Hahn  via Zoom to sign paperwork to waive his preliminary hearing early. By waiving his right to preliminary hearing, Johnson’s case will proceed to the pre-trial phase, and the district attorney will not be required to present evidence. 

“By waiving, Theo does NOT admit guilt,” Dunkle told NSN in an email. “He is simply not requiring the DA to present evidence to show that there is a prima facie case to justify the charges.”

According to an affidavit of probable cause written by State College police and obtained by the Centre Daily Times, Johnson, 22, refused to leave a fraternity along East Prospect Avenue. Police wrote that Johnson had been asked to leave because he wasn’t wearing a required wristband and that video surveillance revealed that Johnson punched the man during the argument.

The blow was severe enough for Mount Nittany Medical Center to diagnose the man with a concussion, and the police wrote that his sunglasses, which allegedly cost upwards of $560 were broken due to the fight.  Johnson has been charged with simple assault, a second-class misdemeanor, and criminal mischief, a third-degree misdemeanor. 

A Windsor, Ontario native, Johnson attended Holy Names Catholic High School, where he was a consensus four-star recruit and the No. 1 overall prospect in Canada in the Class of 2020. Johnson played in seven games for Penn State in 2020 and 13 in 2021, when he had 19 catches for 213 yards and one touchdown.

Last season, Johnson was part of a solid tight-end trio featuring Brenton Strange and Tyler Warren. He ended the year with 328 yards and four touchdowns on 20 receptions and was named to the Mackey Award Watch List.

Coming into this season, Johnson is in line to be Penn State’s No. 1 tight end after Strange declared for the NFL draft. Warren also will return to the tight end room in 2023.

This is a developing story, and Nittany Sports Now will have more information once it becomes available. 

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