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49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks pleads not guilty to sexual battery

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks reacts after sacking Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco during the third quarter in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 3, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of molesting the same woman his former teammate, Ray McDonald, is accused of raping while she was unconscious.

If convicted of the sexual battery charge, Brooks could be sentenced to a jail term of up to six months. McDonald, who is free on $100,000 bond, pleaded not guilty on Friday to a charge of rape by intoxication, which carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.

The prosecution of the two athletes marks the latest in a string of recent criminal cases brought against National Football League players accused of sexual misconduct or domestic violence.

Authorities have divulged few details about the circumstances of the alleged incident last December involving McDonald and Brooks, both 31.

In a civil lawsuit brought by their accuser, the woman said she was assaulted at McDonald’s home after she slipped on the pool deck and fell, losing consciousness from a head injury and alcohol consumption, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

McDonald, a defensive end and eight-year NFL veteran, was released by the 49ers in December after he was named as a possible suspect in the rape case. The Chicago Bears signed him in March but released him three months later after his arrest on suspicion of assaulting his former fiancée.

Brooks remains on the 49ers’ roster.

His lawyer entered a not guilty plea on Brooks’ behalf in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose on Tuesday. Brooks was not present for the proceedings. A pretrial hearing in his case was set for Oct. 28.

Writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Nick Macfie