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A former Marshall University running back will face trial on Jan. 26 on charges of hitting a gay couple.

The Herald-Dispatch ( reports a Cabell County circuit judge set the tentative trial date during a status conference Tuesday for 24-year-old Steward Butler of Lakeland, Florida.

Indictments unsealed in late May charge Butler with two felony civil rights violations and two misdemeanor battery counts.

Butler is accused of striking two men who were kissing on a Huntington street on April 5. He was dismissed from the team and no longer attends Marshall.

The civil rights violation relates to the men's gender. Butler attorney Raymond Nolan and Cabell County assistant prosecutor Lauren Plymale agreed to submit questions to the state Supreme Court concerning whether hate crime statutes include protection for sexual orientation.