USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was battling to become the Trojans’ starter, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexual assault.
Los Angeles Police Department officers took the 19-year-old redshirt freshman into custody about 4 p.m., after a female USC student told police she had been sexually assaulted by Sanchez in the early morning. Sanchez, from Mission Viejo, was arrested at the Cardinal Gardens apartment complex at 3131 McClintock Ave.
Police would not say where the alleged assault occurred.
The security system at a nearby club Sanchez visited late Tuesday night shows him leaving at 12:59 a.m. Wednesday.
“He left by himself,” a club employee said. “There was no girl with him.”
Sanchez was taken to LAPD’s Parker Center in downtown Los Angeles. As of late Wednesday, his bail had been set at $200,000, according to Officer Jason Lee of the LAPD. Lee said Sanchez would be “booked very soon.”
Police said the woman was not hospitalized.
USC Coach Pete Carroll was out of town on a recruiting trip but said he was aware of Sanchez’s arrest.
“We’re just hearing about this,” Carroll said in a statement released by the university Wednesday evening. “We’ll cooperate fully and do whatever we can to assist. At this point, this is being handled by the university’s student affairs office and we’ll follow along with whatever action the university takes.”
Michael L. Jackson, USC’s vice president of student affairs, said that Sanchez would be put on “interim suspension” while the case was pending, meaning that the athlete cannot attend class or participate in other student activities until the university reviews the situation further.
“We need to understand better what’s going on before we can make a determination of anything,” Jackson said.
“We take these things very seriously. ... We don’t know the facts, but the nature of the allegations are serious.”
Spring semester classes conclude Friday and final exams are May 3-10. USC officials said it was too early to determine whether Sanchez’s eligibility for the 2006 season, which begins Sept. 2 at Arkansas, would be jeopardized.
Witnesses to the arrest said the area just north of campus was swarming with police and campus safety officers as Sanchez and sophomore linebacker Brian Cushing were led away from Building E in the sprawling complex.
Cushing was released at the scene.
USC students Matthew Menjou and Altman Tsang, roommates who live in a building adjacent to where Sanchez was taken into custody, said Sanchez happened upon them in a parking lot behind the apartment buildings about 1:30 a.m.
Menjou, from Torrance, said he and Tsang, who is from Centerville, Va., said they had returned from getting something to eat when the car they were in ran out of gas just as they prepared to park.
Menjou said Sanchez, whom he recognized from photos as a football player who was supposed to be “the next Matt Leinart,” showed up and offered to help them push the car into a space.
Menjou said Sanchez was loud and appeared as if he had been drinking alcohol.
According to an employee of the 901 Club on Figueroa Street, club security cameras show Sanchez arrived at the bar Tuesday night at 11:21, using a fake Arizona ID that showed his name as Jordan Traver Uttal.
“I saw him and he was stoned-faced sober when he came in,” said the employee, who asked not to be identified by name.
The club, known by USC students as “The 9-0,” is about a 10-minute walk from Cardinal Gardens.
Sanchez is the second USC player to be arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in the last 13 months.
In March 2005, cornerback Eric Wright was booked on suspicion of rape after an alleged incident at the complex, but he was never charged. Wright eventually transferred to Nevada Las Vegas.
In August 2004, the LAPD launched a sexual assault investigation that involved Trojan football players after an alleged incident occurred at the same complex. No arrests were made.
Sanchez, who is listed at 6 feet 4 and 215 pounds, took most of the snaps in the Trojans’ recently completed spring practice after junior John David Booty suffered a back injury that required surgery.
Klein reported from New York, Leovy from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Bill Dwyre and Stuart Silverstein also contributed to this report from Los Angeles.