San Francisco (AFP) – San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three felony domestic violence charges from a February incident, according to a posting on the NFL’s website.
The Santa Clara County (California) District Attorney’s Office said a preliminary hearing for the 24-year-old defender is scheduled for May 17.
Foster was charged with inflicting great bodily harm, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possession of an assault weapon.
Foster would face more than 11 years in prison if convicted on all charges stemming from his February 11 arrest after Foster’s former girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, made the accusations. Ennis has since recanted the complaints.
The penultimate first-round pick in last year’s NFL Draft, Foster made 72 tackles, 59 of them solo, and a pass deflection in 10 games for San Francisco last season, all of them as a starter.
John Lynch, the 49ers’ general manager, said last month that Foster will be dropped if found guilty of striking Ennis.
“I do want to be very clear, abundantly clear, that if these charges are proven true, that if Reuben did indeed hit this young lady, he won’t be part of our organization going forward,” Lynch said. “That’s the standard we want on our team, that’s the standard we are going to operate under.”
Foster also would be subject to punishment under the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, which requires a six-game suspension for a first-time domestic violence violation.