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UA lineman is charged with assault

NOTE: PHOTO MUG: Middleton

Frank Middleton Jr. is accused of striking a woman dressed as `Benny the Beaver,’ Oregon State’s mascot.

University of Arizona football player Frank Middleton Jr. faces assault and harassment charges for allegedly striking Oregon State University’s mascot during a Nov. 4 football game in Corvallis, Ore.

Benton County, Ore., authorities said yesterday they have issued a warrant for the arrest of Middleton, a 6-foot-5-inch, 305-pound offensive lineman.

He has been charged with hitting a 135-pound woman dressed as “Benny the Beaver.’

The alleged incident occurred while Arizona was celebrating a third-quarter touchdown during the Wildcats’ 14-9 victory. Middleton has been charged with harassment and assault in the fourth degree.

“Because these are misdemeanor charges, the warrant issued is in-state only,’ said Janet Holcomb, a prosecutor in the Benton County District Attorney’s Office.

If Middleton does not travel to Oregon to resolve the matter, he will be subject to arrest whenever he sets foot in the state, according to Holcomb. But he would not face extradition.

UA will play OSU next season in Tucson, but is scheduled to play the University of Oregon Nov. 9 in Eugene, Ore.

Witnesses said the Oregon State mascot, portrayed by student Marri Hollen, was slugged in the face by Middleton. Hollen was standing with OSU cheerleaders and did not taunt UA players, witnesses said.

Sgt. Sal Celi of the UA Police Department questioned Middleton about the incident in December at the request of the OSU police department, and results were passed along to OSU police. Celi said there were witnesses and a videotape of the incident.

Middleton is a junior who transferred to UA from Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College. He started some games last season, and UA anticipates him returning for his senior season.

Middleton and UA football coach Dick Tomey could not be reached for comment. Mike Proctor, a lawyer in the UA Attorney’s Office, said that to his knowledge UA had not been notified of the charges, and would have no comment at this time.

Middleton has been cooperative “and I assume he will be cooperative in the future,’ said Proctor.

This was not the first time Hollen was allegedly struck by a football player while dressed as Benny the Beaver. She was punched Oct. 21 by a University of California offensive lineman after she tapped his shoulder with a giant plastic hammer.

The California player wrote a letter of apology to Hollen and no charges were filed against him.

Hollen was not seriously injured in either incident.

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