Benson Charged With Trespassing; Will Not Start

The Austin Police Department filed misdemeanor trespass charges against RB Cedric Benson Tuesday, head coach Mack Brown confirmed. The junior met with his attorney instead of practicing and will not start at Baylor Saturday, Brown said. The sixth-year coach left open the possibility that Benson could play, depending upon the outcome of the incident.

The decision to keep Benson out of the starting lineup was not intended as punishment but rather to mitigate the level of distraction as No. 18/19 Texas prepares for the Bears.

"We do understand with our legal system that you are innocent until proven guilty and we‘re standing behind Cedric completely," Brown said. "He does not want it to be a distraction for this team and we do not want it to be a distraction. We've got a really important conference game this weekend so he will not start on Saturday. We're going to follow the legal system because I know very little about it since he was charged today. We'll follow through the week with as little distraction as we can for the team and decide more about his participation as we follow the case."

Third down back Brett Robin and backups Selvin Young and Anthony Johnson competed for the starting spot Tuesday.

"It doesn't change our preparation at all," Brown said. "We've been recruiting hard and we've got great players and we'll move forward."

The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 according to an APD spokesperson. Benson was arraigned after allegedly kicking in a Southeast Austin apartment door on Oct. 7 in an attempt to recover a stolen large plasma screen television. Robbery charges were not filed because no contents were stolen from the apartment on Little Texas Lane near Stassney Road.

"You're never proud when anybody is accused of something but we also have to remember that this is an accusation," Brown said. "There is absolutely no information that says a young man's guilty and thank goodness we live in a free country where accusations are simply that. I think we ought to talk about this at the end of the situation and see where we are."

Added Brown, "There's no question that if this was most anybody else in Austin, it would not get this attention."

Benson had filed a police report a year earlier, stating that his television, along with a Sony Playstation, some speakers and clothes, were stolen from his home. He apparently thought his possessions were inside the apartment.

According to the account, a female tenant identified as Amanda Lucas heard knocking at the front door, looked through the peephole and saw what appeared to be four men. When she did not answer the door, the men allegedly forced the door open.

She reportedly gave Austin police a written statement on Friday after writing down a license plate number that led police to Benson. She picked Benson out of a photo lineup but, according to the account, could not identify the other men.

Brown said he "believes what (Benson) tells me to be to truth" but declined to comment on Benson's version of the incident.

Robin had a career day against Tulane with 87 yards on 15 carries. His 21-yard run against the Green Wave is the longest by a Texas running back all season. Young has been Benson's primary backup but recovery from a groin injury at Rice has been slower than expected. Johnson has 61 yards on 12 carries this season.

"Selvin is working through his soreness," Brown said. "I can't talk about his injury but he did practice."

Previously, Benson was charged with possession of marijuana in late spring, 2002. That misdemeanor was subsequently dropped after Benson argued that he walked into a Midland party where others were using a controlled substance.

"He's weathered storms before and he's a very tough young man," Brown said. "I think you'll see him stand up and weather this one as well."

Brown dismissed reporters' questions regarding private conversations he has had with Benson but said the running back was upset.

"Obviously, he's not happy with the situation and not feeling good," Brown said.

Brown's message to the team was simple and direct.

"We told the team it had nothing to do with them and they need to focus on Baylor," Brown said. "We had a great practice today."

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