Former NFL lineman faced sex abuse charges

By Jeff Barnard

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 17 2012 4:30 p.m. MST

A former NFL lineman who committed suicide at an Oregon wildlife refuge was facing criminal charges that he sexually abused three children under the age of 14, authorities said Tuesday.

Court records obtained by The Associated Press show Michael Wayne Current, 66, was scheduled to enter pleas Tuesday in Marion County Circuit Court in Salem, Ore., on five counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of luring a minor.

Marion County Deputy District Attorney Will Lathrop said the charges involved three victims, all under the age of 14, and that the incidents occurred between 2004 and 2010.

Court records listed two girls and one boy as victims.

On Sunday, a woman friend of Current bought the bolt-action 20-gauge shotgun he used to kill himself and drove him from Portland, Ore., to the Spirit Mountain Casino in Grande Ronde, where they spent the day, said Polk County sheriff's Sgt. Michael Holsapple.

The woman stopped answering questions before investigators could determine her relationship with Current, or whether she drove him to the wildlife refuge where he shot himself in the head at a viewing area, Holsapple said.

Two off-duty paramedics found Current dead Monday morning at a gazebo where birdwatchers gather to watch migrating waterfowl at the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Holsapple said.

The site is on Oregon Highway 22 on the way from the casino back to Salem, Ore., where Current had been living in a motel since his arrest.

He was wearing sweats and a blanket. In his pockets were cigarettes, a lighter, a cellphone and his wallet.

Holsapple said Current coached youth football for a time in Silverton, Ore., where his ex-wife was from, but currently lived in Las Vegas. He had lung cancer.

The criminal charges were not related to Current's coaching activities, Lathrop said.

He drove a school bus in Silverton from July 2003 to March 2010, when he left of his own accord, with no disciplinary actions against him, said Jen Biddinger, spokeswoman for First Student, Inc.

Court records show Current was secretly indicted Nov. 17, and notified of the indictment Dec. 15. Lathrop said Current was extradited from Las Vegas.

Current's attorney, James Susee, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.

Current was booked into the Marion County Jail Dec. 26, arraigned the next day, and released on $270,000 bail.

He played left tackle at Ohio State and was a co-captain his senior year under coach Woody Hayes.

He was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1967 AFL/ NFL draft by the Denver Broncos. He also played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins, starting 164 of the 169 games he played.

He played in the 1969 Pro Bowl while with the Broncos.

His 2002 memoir was titled "Rememberin' Life in the Trenches." He also wrote a crime novel set in Alaska titled, "Bush Justice."

The Salem Statesman Journal reported that Current was a volunteer coach for a Pop Warner football league in Silverton in the mid-2000s.

"He was an awesome guy, and all he wanted to do was help kids in his community," the league's vice president, Jim McIntire, told the newspaper. "The kids absolutely loved him."

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