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Two college football players arraigned in beating of homeless man

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(CNN) -- Two college football players were arraigned in Massachusetts Superior Court on Wednesday for allegedly kicking and beating a homeless man until a passerby shielded the victim's body with her own, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said.

Craig "C.J." Parsons, 22, and Anthony Varrichione, 23, were charged with aggravated assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Additionally, Parsons was charged with "with violating the state's witness intimidation statute in an attempt to stymie the investigation," the District Attorney's Office said.

Parsons is a senior football player at Boston College, and Varrichione, a former quarterback, recently graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Both men pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday, a spokesman for the District Attorney's Office said.

The incident occurred early January 26. The unidentified victim, 50, is a homeless man who was panhandling in Boston's Allston neighborhood. After an argument between him and the other two men, Parsons and Varrichione allegedly punched and kicked him. Prosecutors say Parsons also knocked the man's head into the sidewalk, rendering him unconscious.

A female passerby saw part of the attack and ran to the victim's aid, using her body to shield him from the attackers. Other witnesses called 911, and the victim was taken to a nearby hospital. The man is expected to survive but has no memory of the attack, prosecutors say.

Wednesday's arraignment comes after a three-month grand jury investigation that called 17 civilian witnesses to testify after a Boston police investigation was unable to identify the attackers. The investigation also found evidence that Parsons told someone to not identify him to investigators, leading to his witness intimidation charge.

Parsons, who was set to graduate this spring, has been given an immediate suspension from Boston College "in light of the disturbing nature of the allegations," said Jack Dunn, director of communications for the college.

Michael Doolin, Parsons' attorney, told CNN that his client is "a wonderful young man from a fine family."

"I think that after a full and thorough investigation, that when we get this case to trial, that C.J. will be exonerated," he said.

Varrichione's attorney, Tim Flaherty, said his client "has had no previous difficulties in life," adding that Varrichione is hopeful that a full examination of all of the circumstances will exonerate him.

Parsons and Varrichione were released on their own recognizance Wednesday, their attorneys said.

Varrichione is listed as having a height of 6 feet, 4 inches and a weight of 225 pounds on the Marist College Athletics website. Parsons played tight end for the Boston College Eagles and is listed as being 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 253 pounds on the Boston College Athletics website.

A court date has been set for June 4, prosecutors say.

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