To little surprise, the man who has been hired to prove the innocence of Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett is proclaiming Bennett’s innocence.
“He just didn’t do it,” lawyer Rusty Hardin told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Monday night. “I strongly feel that way and not just because it’s totally inconsistent with his whole history and not just because he says he didn’t. I’ve talked to other witnesses. We’ve talked to other witnesses who also didn’t see anything.”
Bennett is accused of shoving and injuring an elderly, paraplegic female who was working at Super Bowl LI, at a time when Bennett was trying to get to the field to celebrate with his brother, Martellus, who had just won a championship with the Patriots.
“I’m just comfortable that it’s not him,” Hardin said. “And it’s not one of these things that it’s my client and he didn’t do it. I’m just convinced this guy didn’t do it. I told the DA’s office I would try to get them everything I can to show you, you have the wrong person.”
Making Hardin’s task even more delicate is the fact that he’ll be trying not only to persuade the authorities that Bennett is innocent but also to convince the NFL, which uses a much lower standard of proof than the criminal justice system, that Bennett is blameless. That requires Hardin to eliminate any and all gray area and to show that Bennett is totally and completely innocent of any and all allegations.
“Whatever happened to this lady, it wasn’t done by Michael,” Hardin said. “She might have asked for names and maybe someone said it was Michael, but he didn’t do anything.”
Of course, Bennett isn’t simply accused; he has been indicted on felony charges. While that process doesn’t require much evidence and the defendant has no representation, grand juries typically don’t indict on felony charges without any evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing.