Football player’s charges dropped

Former football player Praise Martin-Oguike had all charges against him dropped yesterday, Oct. 7, the first day of his trial for a 2012 incident in which he was accused of raping a woman in his 1940 dorm room.

Judge Denis Cohen was expected to rule on the defense’s motion to admit texts between Martin-Oguike and the complaintant into evidence. Instead, Assistant District Attorney Christina Pastrana announced that the commonwealth would withdraw all charges.

Martin-Oguike’s attorney James Funt argued in a motions hearing on Sept. 26 that the texts proved the complaintant had a motive in accusing Martin-Oguike of rape, and that the two had previous romantic encounters.

Funt said the complaintant made statements denouncing sexual relations with football players and did not want appear to be a “football groupie.”

After the prosecution announced the withdrawal of the case, Martin-Oguike’s father emotionally huged Funt, saying “God bless you.”

Martin-Oguike was suspended from the both the football team and the university following the incident in May, 2012.

“Praise has been kicked out of school, his scholarships stripped from him, made a pariah,” Funt said. “His life was turned upside-down because of it, because of what we always contested were unfound allegations based on an innocent kid.”

Ray Betzner, a university spokesman, declined to comment on the outcome of the case.

In a statement released through his lawyer, Martin-Oguike did not say whether or not he would attempt to return to the university or the football team.

“I am grateful to all those who supported and believed in me at Temple, my home town and my church.  This past 18 months has been the worst of my life but I always expected to be fully exonerated,” Martin-Oguike said.  “I do not know what the future holds for me and I [will] make those decisions soon.  For now I just want to spend time with my family as we process together everything that has happened to us.”

Martin-Oguike recorded three tackles in two games at linebacker in the 2011 season. Kamal Johnson, a starting defensive tackle, is scheduled to begin trial tomorrow on charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and false imprisonment. The Student Code of Conduct committee cleared Johnson’s case and he continues to attend school and play for the Owls.

Former starting fullback Wyatt Benson has a preliminary hearing on Oct. 18 for assault charges in relation to an incident in April.

John Moriitz and Cindy Stansbury can be reached at news@temple-news.com. 

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