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Saturday, May 2, 1998 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK

World: Americas

Fashanu 'may have fled US'
image: [ Justin Fashanu: accused of a sex offence against a teenage boy ]
Justin Fashanu: accused of a sex offence against a teenage boy

Police in America believe the former British football star Justin Fashanu has left the country.

The ex-Norwich and Nottingham Forest striker disappeared after being charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy at his flat in Maryland. He has denied the charges.

[ image: Justin's brother John:
Justin's brother John: "It doesn't interest me one iota what he does"
Fashanu's brother John - a former England international - told reporters he has not spoken to Justin in more than seven years and had no idea where he was.

"I have not a clue where he is," he said. "It doesn't interest me one iota what he does."

According to Maryland police, a 17-year-old student woke up in Justin Fashanu's bed after a drinking session to find him allegedly performing a sexual act.

Extradition threat

[ image: The assault is alleged to have happened in this apartment block]
The assault is alleged to have happened in this apartment block
Fashanu, who is openly gay, was questioned and charged. But when police went to his flat to carry out a forensic search, they discovered his clothes and personal possessions were gone.

Police said they hoped he would give himself up, but they would extradite him if he returned to Britain.

The alleged incident happened on March 25 at his flat in Ellicott City, police said. He moved there earlier this year to coach at the newly-formed Maryland Mania soccer team.

He was charged with second-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault and second-degree assault. Under Maryland state law, the sex offence alone carries a maximum 20-year jail term.

1m transfer

[ image: The apartment block where Fashanu has a flat]
The apartment block where Fashanu has a flat
The former England B international, who is now 36, had been coaching youth sides in Atlanta, Georgia, before moving to Ellicott City.

The star found himself in the front line for Norwich City at the age of 17, before moving to Nottingham Forest for 1m shortly afterwards. However, his career went downhill after he admitted he was gay eight years ago.

From the glory of the First Division, now the Premiership, he found himself relegated to the less refined surroundings of Third Division Torquay United.

A knee injury kept him out of football for six years in the 1980s and attempts to salvage his career with spells at Manchester City, West Ham, Leyton Orient and Newcastle between 1989 and 1991 failed.

An embittered Fashanu blamed his demise on what he saw as a deep-seated prejudice in the English game.

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