- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Las Vegas-area school police officer pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges alleging he attacked a student and a school staff member and tried to cover it up.

James Lescinsky, 45, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen, who let him remain free ahead of a July 26 trial, but ordered him to surrender personal weapons and return his police equipment to the Clark County School District.

Lescinsky has been suspended from his district and police duties, a district spokeswoman said.

Lescinsky and defense lawyer Jack Campbell declined to comment outside court.

Campbell earlier characterized Lescinsky’s prosecution as a mistake by overreaching prosecutors who misunderstood what happened during a lunchroom fight May 2015 at a North Las Vegas campus that serves high school students assessed to have behavior problems.

An indictment alleges that Lescinsky struck and injured the female staff member with a police baton, and unlawfully assaulted the student by hitting her with the baton and slamming her into a hallway wall and floor.

Lescinsky is accused of lying when he said the student was combative and that the student and staff member were wrestling; of falsifying incident reports; and of trying to persuade a witness to provide a false account of the incident.

Convictions on the five charges could get Lescinsky decades in prison.

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