TAMPA — Breaking his silence, former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Steve White on Monday turned to Twitter to dispute assertions that he abused a boy who grew to be known as the Bloomingdale Library rapist.
The matter first came up in 2008 when Kendrick Morris, then 16, was arrested for a pair of brutal east Hillsborough County rapes. It resurfaced Thursday when a pair of psychologists testified that Morris told of childhood physical and emotional abuse at the hands of White and Morris' mother, Lisa Stevens.
But White, responding to a Tampa Bay Times report about last week's hearing, said he never abused Morris.
"I unequivocally deny all of the utterly false child abuse allegations reported in the article," he wrote in a letter posted to his Twitter page.
Morris faces resentencing for a 2008 rape outside the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library and another rape of a day care worker in 2007. He was convicted of those crimes and sentenced in 2011 to 65 years in prison. The sentence was later overturned after U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that held it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to lengthy prison terms. Morris will get a new sentence March 9.
During a Thursday resentencing hearing, psychologists Berney Wilkinson and James Garbarino testified that Morris reported suffering abuse from his mother and White, whom they described as Morris' stepfather. In 2007, Morris spoke with child protection investigators, telling them Stevens and White would whip him with a belt, leaving scars.
The mother was ultimately charged with child abuse, later pleading guilty to lesser charges.
No charges were filed against White, who has no Florida criminal record.
In addition to denying the abuse, White on Monday said that it was incorrect to call him Morris' stepfather. White said he and Stevens were never married. Court records reflect the two have a daughter together.
White said he was not part of the household when Morris was removed by the Department of Children and Families. He also said he had "very little contact" with Morris during the time of the alleged abuse.
Morris was about 11 at the time, psychologist Wilkinson testified. That would have been about 2003. White said neither Morris nor his mother have lived with the athlete since 2000.
White, a retired defensive lineman, played seven seasons in the NFL, from 1996 to 2002, including six for the Bucs and one for the Jets. He is now a sports blogger.
In his Twitter post, he noted that he was never contacted by the doctors who testified at the hearing. White said he previously did not comment on the case out of concern for his family's privacy.
"These are going to be my first and last public comments on the issue," White wrote. "I ask that everyone respect my family's right to privacy going forward."
Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Dan Sullivan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.