Benson's lawyers say alleged assault victim demanding money

Days after Cedric Benson was released from jail following his arrest on an assault charge, the running back's lawyers issued a statement claiming the alleged victim, Clavens "Miami" Charles, is demanding money in exchange for his silence.

Benson's lawyers, Sam Bassett and David Cornwell, said Wednesday night that Thomas Crosley, the attorney for Charles, "contacted us yesterday to demand a 'settlement' meeting," according to *The Cincinnati Enquirer*.

"This attorney stated that if we did not respond within a short period, Mr. Charles would respond to media requests, including a request for an interview from TMZ," the statement said. "We have learned that Mr. Charles' representatives have contacted at least one public relations firm to assist them with publicity.

"There is nothing to settle with Charles. In fact, we intend to confront Charles in defending the misdemeanor charges against Cedric. Cedric did not act without provocation.

"Cedric regrets the events of this weekend and he is committed to addressing any concerns that NFL teams may have."

Charles, a former roommate of Benson, was involved in a confrontation with the running back on an Austin, Texas, street corner at 5 a.m. Sunday. Charles told police in an arrest affidavit that "all of a sudden he was struck on his face with a closed fist thrown by Benson," after Benson told him they "needed to talk about their problems."

Charles was bleeding from the mouth, according to Travis County police, and complained about "possible loss of teeth and massive swelling of the left cheek."

Crosley told KXAN-TV in Austin that Benson's lawyers' accusations about extortion were "outrageous." Crosley also that Benson's lawyers called him about a meeting to reach a settlement.

Wyche: Bad timing for Benson

Cedric Benson was hoping to cash in as a pending free agent, but his latest issue with the law could cost him the security he wanted, Steve Wyche writes.

"My client, Mr. Charles, has received numerous phone calls from the media but has not spoken with any one as he was requested by Mr. Benson's associates not to speak to the press," Crosley said. "I am disheartened and puzzled by Mr. Benson's attorneys' decision to cancel the meeting and instead issue a press release accusing my client of extortion. This is especially disconcerting because neither I nor my client have made any request for money from Mr. Benson at this time, nor have we threatened to file suit."

Last summer, Benson was arrested over an alleged bar fight in Austin. Police charged him with misdemeanor assault for allegedly punching a bar employee in the face. Benson has denied the charge, and the case is pending.

Benson, 28, will be an unrestricted free agent after he led the Cincinnati Bengals in rushing each of the last three seasons. He has said he hopes to stay with the team, even working out with players in Cincinnati during the lingering NFL lockout.

Benson was Chicago's first-round pick out of the University of Texas in 2005. He had two alcohol-related arrests while with the Bears, who let him go in 2008. He then signed with the Bengals as a free agent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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