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Cotton pleads guilty to reduced charge

CLEVELAND -- Former Cleveland Browns linebacker Marcus Cotton has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge and could be sentenced to six months in jail.

The pleading came Thursday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court after prosecutors dropped rape and sexual battery charges against Cotton, who in March signed as a Plan B free agent with the Seattle Seahawks.

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Cotton, 24, had been accused of raping a 20-year-old Brook Park woman last year after she got drunk with Cotton at a sports bar in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville.

He was indicted in January on the rape and sexual battery charges.

Cotton, following the indictment, had denied any wrongdoing.

Michael Horn, an assistant county prosecutor, said the plea bargain was arranged with the consent of the victim to spare her from testifying at a trial.

Horn said Cotton and his roommate, Randy Hilliard of the Browns, were drinking at the bar Dec. 20 when Cotton became acquainted with the woman.

Horn said the victim became intoxicated and went with the players to their apartment in Parma Heights, where Horn said Cotton took advantage of her drunken condition to have sex with her.

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Cotton's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The Browns signed Cotton Nov. 14 after he was waived by the Atlanta Falcons. He played in seven games for the Browns and then was left unprotected under the Plan B free agency system.

He is to be sentenced June 3. Cotton could be sent to jail for six months and fined $1,000.

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