Former NFL player McDonald pleads not guilty to rape

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By Emmett Berg SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept 25 (Reuters) - Former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald pleaded not guilty on Friday to a charge of rape by intoxication of a woman who reported being sexually assaulted at his home last December. McDonald, 31, has remained free on $100,000 bond since shortly after his arrest last month in the case, marking the latest criminal charges brought against a National Football League player. Defense lawyers entered the not guilty plea on his behalf in Santa Clara County Superior Court. The eight-year NFL veteran, dressed in a pinstripe suit, was silent, except to answer, "Yes, your honor" to procedural questions put to him by the judge. McDonald, who has previously asserted that he and his accuser had a consensual sexual encounter, did not address reporters outside the courthouse. He walked without comment to a waiting sport utility vehicle and was driven away. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison. Current 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks has been charged separately with misdemeanor sexual battery of McDonald's alleged victim on the same night. His charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail. Judge Shelyna Brown granted a request by McDonald's lawyers to seal grand jury transcripts in the case, which Deputy District Attorney Chris Lameiro did not oppose. Prosecutors have divulged few details about the circumstances of the alleged assault. In a civil lawsuit brought by McDonald's accuser, the woman said she repeatedly slipped on the pool deck of his home and fell, losing consciousness from a head injury and alcohol consumption, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The alleged sexual assaults occurred while she was unconscious, she said. The grand jury that indicted McDonald declined to charge him with felony false imprisonment stemming from a May incident in which he was accused of assaulting his former fiancée as she held their 2-month-old child, prosecutors have said. But the grand jury did indict him on a charge of breaching a retraining order arising from the alleged assault. McDonald was released by the 49ers in December after he was named as a possible suspect in the rape case. The Chicago Bears signed him to a one-year contract in March but released him three months later after the arrest involving his former fiancée. (Editing by Steve Gorman and Will Dunham)