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Benson may face discipline because of assault charge

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Posted July 01, 2010 @ 2:56 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Bengals RB Cedric Benson faces a misdemeanor assault charge in Austin, Texas, stemming from a May 30 incident at a bar, and police and Benson's attorney, David Cornwell, have somewhat different accounts of events.

Austin police allege Benson struck Bryan White, a bartender at Annie's West, on the morning of May 30. According to an arrest affidavit from Austin police, Benson got into a "physical disturbance" at Annie's West with an "unknown subject," and the two had to be separated. When Benson refused to leave after having been asked by bar staff, he was physically escorted outside, according to police. It was outside the bar that Benson punched White in the face, according to police. Austin police took video evidence from the bar that showed the incident, according to the arrest affidavit.

In a statement released to the media on June 29, Cornwell gave the following account of the incident:

"Late last month at a nightclub, Cedric Benson was asked to take pictures with some female fans. A man approached Cedric and objected to him posing for pictures with the women. Cedric explained that he had been asked to pose with the women and the man punched Cedric.

"An altercation followed and while Cedric was leaving the club, he was approached by another man aggressively. Believing this man was a friend of the man who had punched him, Cedric attempted to protect himself and continued out of the club. Immediately upon leaving the club, Cedric called the police. He was interviewed by the police and left the area.

"Two weeks ago while he was in Cincinnati, Cedric was contacted by a detective investigating the incident in Texas. Apparently, the second man who approached Cedric is an employee of the nightclub and claimed that Cedric punched him. Cedric agreed to be interviewed upon his return to Texas and provided his return date. Cedric was not contacted by the detective upon his return.

"This morning Cedric received a telephone call advising him that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Cedric voluntarily made himself available, was taken into custody, and was released earlier today after posting bond. Upon his release, Cedric contacted Coach Marvin Lewis and the Commissioner's office to notify the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL of these events.

"Though we adamantly dispute that Cedric committed a crime, Cedric will continue to cooperate with law enforcement, the Bengals and the NFL in their investigation of these events."

The obvious next question, beyond the legal resolution of the case, is whether Benson will face NFL discipline.

If Benson is found guilty or pleads guilty, he would be subject to discipline under the NFL's personal-conduct policy as determined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. If convicted, Benson could face up to a year in prison and/or up to a $4,000 fine.

Benson, 27, rushed for a career-high 1,251 yards last season for Cincinnati. Bernard Scott, who's entering his second NFL season, is the top backup to Benson, with Brian Leonard, a good pass catcher, the third back.


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