Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former Buc helped raise 16-year-old rape suspect

TAMPA — The teen accused in two rapes grew up with a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer as a father figure, but court records indicate it was not a happy home.

Kendrick Morris, 16, who was formally charged Tuesday with a rape in June at a day care center, told child protection investigators last year that his mother and former Buccaneer defensive end Steve White whipped him repeatedly with a belt. An investigator found more than 60 marks on the boy's body.

Sheriff's officials investigated, and charged Morris's mother, Lisa Stevens, with two counts of child abuse. She later pleaded guilty to lesser charges. No charges were filed against White, who has no Florida criminal record.

To investigators, Morris described White as his stepfather, but it's unclear whether the couple ever married. A sheriff's report from 2000 says they were engaged. They have a biological child, an 8-year-old girl.

White, 34, and Stevens have spent five years in a custody case that appears unresolved. In court documents, Morris' mother describes White as "a father figure" to him for the last decade.

White, contacted at his Westchase home Tuesday, declined to comment on Morris or his court battles with Stevens, and refused to name his lawyer. His attorney of record, Nancy J. Neaves, could not be reached.

Deputies arrested Morris last week, accusing him of sexually assaulting a teenage girl outside a Brandon library. On Tuesday, they added a second rape charge involving an attack last summer at Children's Lighthouse Day Care Center.

A thick court file gives clues to the abuse allegations the teen made against his mother and White including a child protection medical report. The dependency file on the children, which may contain more information, is not a public record.

A financial affidavit filed in 2003 in the case gives a glimpse into White's lifestyle at the time the custody case started. He listed his annual income as $1.2-million. He drove a Cadillac Escalade and a Mercedes S55.

After allegations of abuse surfaced regarding Kendrick Morris, an investigator with the Hillsborough County Child Protection Team interviewed the boy in February, 2007.

In a medical report, the investigator asked Morris, "Why are you here today?"

"I have scars from my step-father and my mother when they would whip me," he said, according to the report.

"With what?" he was asked.

"A belt," Morris said. The boy said the last whipping occurred a couple of months before. He said he usually got in trouble for late homework.

The investigator noted marks on his chest, both arms, shoulders, back and upper legs, six still healing, the report notes.

"Physical findings of today's examination are indicative of INFLICTED, NON-ACCIDENTAL injuries," the investigator wrote, emphasizing some words with in all capital letters. The report says Morris began seeing a psychiatrist at age 10.

At a hearing in June 2007, an assistant attorney general asked that both children be placed with White, who offered to take them in to keep them together.

"We feel that that is an appropriate safe placement, in that, it is in the best interest of the children," said Assistant Attorney General Jill Adams.

The children were placed with their grandmother at one point, but it is unclear who has custody now.

Stevens, now 36, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to probation. She completed parenting and anger management classes, records show.

White played football for the University of Tennessee before beginning his NFL career in 1996 with the Philadelphia Eagles and then moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He the Bucs after the 2001 season left for the New York Jets.

A University of South Florida spokesman said in 2005 White briefly helped coach the Bulls football team. He stepped down for personal reasons, according to Times files.

He also spent a year as a volunteer football coach at Alonso High School three years ago, Hillsborough schools spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

Stevens declined to comment on the abuse allegations or on her son's case, referring questions to his attorney, who did not respond to a call.

Morris' grandmother insisted he was innocent and suggested that authorities had arrested "the first black man" they could find.

"Kendrick did not do it," she said, voice sharpening with anger, in a brief interview Tuesday afternoon outside her Clair Mel home. "They need to go out and find the maniac that did it."

Staff writers Letitia Stein, Rebecca Catalanello and Thomas Lake and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at [email protected] or 813-226-3373.

Former Buc helped raise 16-year-old rape suspect 04/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 1, 2008 11:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Editorial: Trump owes apology to fallen soldier's Miami family


    There is no more sacred, solemn role for a president than to comfort grieving family members of soldiers who have given their lives in service of their country. Those calls cannot be easy, and some presidents are better at it than others. Yet President Donald Trump and his administration continue to engage in a …

  2. Lightning: Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mistmatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and ... whom else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  3. Hillsborough teachers get a hard no on scheduled pay raises


    The Hillsborough County School District cannot afford to advance teachers to their next year's pay levels, employee relations manager Mark West told the union at Monday afternoon's bargaining session.

    This might be the last teacher bargaining session in Hillsborough for awhile. Although the two sides are not officially at an impasse, the district says it cannot pay teachers their scheduled raises.
  4. Editorial: A neighborhood under attack unites


    Three murders in two weeks understandably have Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood on edge. But Tampa police and residents are working together to find the killer and are connecting in ways that will strengthen the community in the long run. This is the best reaction to the tragedy of the three deaths, and it should …

    Seminole Heights residents came together in a candlelight vigil Sunday night to pay respect to the families and to demonstrate that they will not be cowed into staying indoors.
  5. Students at middle school pretend to rape black classmates on Snapchat


    The Snapchat had just about every offensive topic the middle school students could cram into a video clip: race-based simulated sexual assaults, profanity-laced slurs and repulsive language that shocked whoever the intended audience was - and, eventually, many more people.

    Students at a Virginia middle school pretended to rape other students on video, which was shared on Snapchat. Reports say white members of a football team enacted the rape scenes while in the locker room. This photo of a standard locker room is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.