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Horse-punching case starts Wednesday

CINCINNATI, Oct. 31 -- The jury trial of University of Cincinnati basketball player Art Long, accused of a misdemeanor assault against Toby, a Cincinnati Police Department horse, was to start Wednesday in Hamilton County Municipal Court. Long allegedly punched the horse four times in its neck during a May encounter with police officers in a shopping area near the Cincinnati campus.

The horse was not injured during the attack. Long's friend and basketball teammate, Danny Fortson, was charged with disorderly conduct for alleged drunkenness, shouting obscenities and refusing to leave the area. Both men have pleaded innocent to the charges. If convicted, Long, 23, a senior center whose academic major is criminal justice, faces up to six months in jail. Fortson could be sentenced to 30 day in jail. The convictions would also jeopardize the men's standing with the Bearcats. UC has already suspended Long from the team's two preseason games, and Fortson from one game. The incident occurred while Police Officer Blair Baker was sitting atop Toby and writing a traffic ticket. Baker's report said Long and Fortson drove by and shouted abusive phrases at him. Their car was stopped by other officers and Long then allegedly punched Toby. Long is currently on probation for selling marijuana to a Dodge City, Kan., police officer in 1993. During October, Long was charged with domestic violence against the mother of his child. He was accused of choking her, but last week a Municipal Court judge agreed to drop the charges if Long completed a counseling program.

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