Player trial sheds light on hearings

 

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Praise Martin-Oguike described last Monday, Oct. 7, as the “best day of my life,” after rape charges against him were dropped by the district attorney’s office. However, the former football player is still barred from returning to campus under the Student Code of Conduct. 

Martin-Oguike is one of several Temple football players charged with felonies in the past few years. Still, other players remain at the school and on the team while in the midst of criminal proceedings.

Kamal Johnson, who was teammates with Martin-Oguike during the 2011 season, was charged in Fall 2012 with false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. Johnson pled guilty to three lesser charges – two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of harassment – on Tuesday Oct. 8. Johnson’s case was cleared by Student Code of Conduct, and he remains a student and player, recording a tackle in Temple’s most recent loss to Cincinnati.

Wyatt Benson, a former fullback, is off the team but remains a student at the university after facing assault charges from an April incident at the University of Pennsylvania.

Olaniyi Adewole is not on the team’s roster this year and is not registered as a student after he was charged with aggravated assault in July.

Dean of Students Stephanie Ives declined to comment on disciplinary cases.

Martin-Oguike’s attorney, James Funt, said he has had preliminary talks with the university about the possibility of his client’s return. Martin-Oguike would likely have to go through another hearing process with Student Code of Conduct in order to be reinstated at the university and be allowed to play football, Funt said.

“There should not be a hearing,” Funt said. “These are extraordinary cases with an extraordinary young man.”

Funt submitted texts between his client and the accuser before the first day of Martin-Oguike’s trial, which Funt said proved the woman had ulterior motives in accusing him of rape. The charges were dropped on the first day of the trial.

Martin-Oguike said the incident in question was consensual and that he only found out she was saying it wasn’t after he refused to enter into an exclusive relationship with her.

Martin-Oguike was suspended in May 2012 by Student Code of Conduct after he was charged with rape. Martin-Oguike now attends community college in New Jersey where he plans on going into pre-med. Martin-Oguike said he has not decided upon whether or not he will appeal his expulsion through another hearing process in order to regain his student status and football scholarship at Temple.

“I guess that they did what they had to do,” said Martin-Oguike on his dismissal from  the team. “I don’t have a problem with it.”

Martin-Oguike declined to comment on the status of Johnson and his other former team mates at an interview in Funt’s Center City office Friday, Oct. 11.

Coach Matt Rhule confirmed that Kamal Johnson is still an active member of the football team, but declined to comment further.

Funt  said that his client was poorly represented by the media for posting Martin-Oguike’s image online for the world to see, causing irreparable damage to Martin-Oguike’s reputation.

“People gravitate toward breaking news, they gravitate to a football player charged with rape. It’s an afterthought when they are aquitted.”

Johnson was kicked off the football team in October 2012 after he turned himself into police for the alleged incident involving a former girlfriend, however, he was allowed to retain his status as a student and scholarship and later rejoined the team after Student Code of Conduct cleared his incident.

Johnson, who has started in four seasons for the Owls, is the only active student-athlete at Temple facing felony charges. As part of his guilty plea, Johnson’s defense sucessfully argued for the player to continue to travel with the team while he serves nine months probation.

Benson has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Oct. 18. Adewole has a scheduling connference on Oct. 22.

John Mortiz can be reached at john.mortiz@temple.edu or on Twitter @JCMortizTU.

John Mortiz can be reached at john.mortiz@temple.edu or on Twitter @JCMortizTU.

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