AUSTIN -- Former Longhorn running back Cedric Benson pled no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge for punching someone at a bar in Austin. A judge then sentences him to 20 days in jail.
Benson is second on the University of Texas' all-time rushing list and is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Benson was scheduled for trial at 2 p.m. Monday. The court even picked a jury. However, just as the trial was set to start, all parties met in private and struck a deal.
Benson entered a plea of no contest and agreed to serve 20 days in jail and pay a fine of $4,000. Benson told Travis County Judge Nancy Hohengarten that he will report to jail on Oct. 17. That is a bye week for the Bengals.
The court assistant took his thumbprint, and Benson was free to leave.
This charge stems from an assault at Annie's West bar on West 6th Street on May 30, 2010. According to the court affidavit, a bar employee escorted Benson to the door after he noticed Benson fighting with another person.
The employee says Benson was angry and punched him on the left side of his face.
KVUE News spoke with Benson's attorney Sam Bassett as he and Benson left the courtroom.
This was a difficult decision for Mr. Benson, Bassett said. Obviously, his priority right now is to get back to work and put these legal matters behind him. He entered a plea of no contest. There was not an omission of guilt. He did accept 20-days jail sentence, which he will serve later in the fall. Hopefully his football season will be uninterrupted.
Anytime you go to trial it's a gamble; you never know, and you throw in a celebrity, Mr. Benson, it may be a good thing or a bad thing, said Travis County Assistant Trial Director Corby Holcomb. Obviously, all we want is a fair trial. Anytime you can work out a negotiated plea, it's a known quality of what you're going to be at disposition. We were pleased we were able to get that.
Part of the plea deal included the dismissal of Benson's most recent assault charge. In July of this year, a former roommate of Benson's accused him of punching him multiple times in downtown Austin. For that case, Benson was given one year deferred prosecution, 30 hours of community service, and he will also have to attend anger management counseling through the National Football League.
With this deal, Benson waived his right to appeal.
The next game for the Bengals is Thursday, Sept. 1 against the Colts.