Assault case against ex-Nebraska coach Mickey Joseph dismissed

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The felony assault case against former Nebraska interim head coach and assistant Mickey Joseph was dismissed Wednesday because the accuser refuses to testify.

Joseph had faced a charge of assault by strangulation or suffocation in connection with a November domestic disturbance at the home where he and his wife, Priscilla Joseph, lived.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled, but prosecutor Erica Pruess told Lancaster County Judge Laurie Yardley the accuser emailed her in February to say she wouldn't testify.

Pruess said authorities in Arizona, where the woman who lodged the complaint now lives, were unsuccessful in their attempt to serve a summons requiring her to appear.

Police went to a Lincoln residence in the afternoon of Nov. 30 -- two days after Matt Rhule was introduced as the Cornhuskers' new coach -- after a report of a domestic disturbance. After an investigation, Joseph was arrested at another location.

Joseph was Nebraska's interim football coach for nine games in 2022 after the firing of Scott Frost. Joseph was placed on administrative leave after his arrest, and the university announced two weeks later that he was no longer with the football program.

The woman told police she and Joseph were in an argument when Joseph pushed her, causing her to fall onto a couch. She said Joseph got on top of her and placed his hands around her throat.

"He pushed me on the couch and strangled me," she said, according to a police affidavit. She said that her breathing was impeded and that she wasn't able to breathe until she pushed him off.

When she went into the kitchen, she said, Joseph grabbed her hair from behind and pulled her backward, causing her to fall to the floor. In the process of her falling, she said, Joseph struck her in the left temple with a closed fist.

Police said that she had visible redness and swelling around her left eye that was consistent with being struck and that she was observed to have several strands of hair clinging to her upper pant leg. She said the hairs were pulled from her when Joseph grabbed her.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been subjected to extreme abuse. The woman in the Joseph case has not publicly identified herself.

Less than two weeks after Joseph was charged, Priscilla Joseph asked for a legal separation in Lancaster County Court. A judge denied Priscilla Joseph's motion to have records sealed in that case.