Former players face trial

Praise Martin-Oguike, a former linebacker, awaits Oct. 7 trail.

Two former Temple football players are due in court for criminal allegations this month, including one whose rape trial is slated to begin Monday, Oct. 7.

Praise Martin-Oguike, a former linebacker who saw playing time as a true freshman in 2011, was arrested in May 2012 and charged with rape in connection to an incident reported by a woman in the 1940 Residence Hall.

Martin-Oguike was suspended from the team and eventually expelled from the university, though his defense has maintained his innocence.

In a motion filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas at his pre-trial hearing on Sept. 26, Martin-Oguike’s lawyer, James Funt, argued to Judge Dennis Cohen for the admission of texts from the phone of woman who said that Martin-Oguike raped her.

Funt argued that the texts, which would normally be impermissible for attempting to lay claim to an accuser’s sexual history, prove that the woman attempted to cover up aspects of her relationship with his client.

Since he was arrested on May 30, 2012 and charged with forcible rape and sexual assault, Martin-Oguike has argued that he did in fact have consensual sex with his accuser, and that she only accused him of rape after he refused a relationship with the woman.

“[Martin-Oguike’s] only mistake was rejecting this woman’s demands for a permanent relationship,” Funt said in a statement in 2012. “Her allegations against him are baseless, she knows it and we will prove it in court.”

Cohen is expected to decide if the accuser’s texts are permissible on the first day of Martin-Oguike’s trial.

Wyatt Benson, a former starting fullback, is facing assault charges stemming from an incident that occurred at a party at the University of Pennsylvania in April. The complainant, a Penn student, claims that Benson, who was dating his ex-girlfriend at the time, came up to him at the party and punched him the eye.

An affidavit signed by the complainant states that he required five stitches and suffered a lacerated cornea.

Benson was suspended from the team in August pending the assault charges, though he is still listed as a student at the university. He has a hearing set for Oct. 18.

John Moritz can be reach at or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU. 

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