Ex-Coug faces up to 20 years


    By Peter Kranenburg

    Attorneys representing a former BYU football player filed a motion last week to withdraw his guilty plea in the rape case of a 17-year-old girl.

    Defense Attorney Greg Skordas filed the motion last Tuesday requesting to withdraw Karland Bennett?s guilty pleas. The pleas were made almost two months ago as prosecutors prepared to try the case.

    ?These types of motions are rarely filed and rarely granted,? Skordas said. ?This trial is exceptional because they were acquitted of all charges.?

    Bennett pled guilty to a second-degree felony obstruction of justice and a third-degree felony count of dealing harmful material to a minor as part of a plea deal with Utah County attorneys. Bennett faces up to 20 years in prison under the charges. As part of the deal, Bennett also testified in the trial of former BYU players Ibrahim Rashada and B.J. Mathis.

    Bennett originally faced the same charges as Rashada and Mathis, but two first-degree felony counts of aggravated assault were dropped when he agreed to plead guilty to the other charges.

    Rashada and Mathis were acquitted of all charges against them last month, and Bennett now seeks the freedom they were granted. The charges they were acquitted of were much more severe than those Bennett pled guilty to.

    Prosecutors also acknowledge that Bennett?s case is rare and poses a problem as to how to deal with him fairly.

    According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah County Deputy Attorney Donna Kelly felt the jury did not reach the right verdict. She will consult with Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson as well as the alleged victim and her family about what may be done.

    ?I believe strongly that these guys raped her,? Kelly said. ?But the question of what to do with Bennett now is a whole different issue.?

    Kelly could agree to withdraw the plea agreement before the judge rules on the motion Skordas filed. Bennett would then have his day in court and find out if a jury would acquit him as one did for Mathis and Rashada.

    Bennett admitted to conspiring with other players to lie to police and BYU Honor Code investigators about what happened at his apartment Aug. 8, 2004.

    During the trial, Bennett testified the sex acts he witnessed that night in his apartment appeared to be consensual.

    Bennett?s new sentencing date is Dec. 6.

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