ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Cunningham pleaded not guilty Wednesday to New Jersey charges that he shared explicit photos of a female friend.
Cunningham entered his plea during a brief court hearing in Union County. The 26-year-old is charged with criminal mischief, invasion of privacy and unlawful weapons transport. The charges stem from an alleged domestic violence incident at a Summit residence Dec. 29. A prosecutor's spokesman says a loaded handgun was found in Cunningham's Audi.
At the hearing, prosecutors asked the judge to set bail for Cunningham, but the judge declined, noting that Cunningham has no prior criminal record. The next hearing in the case was set for March 5.
Prosecutors allege Cunningham violated a law that forbids disclosing photos or videos without the consent of someone "whose intimate parts are exposed" or who is engaged in a sexual act. They said the woman and Cunningham lived together. Authorities have not said how or where the images were shared.
The criminal mischief and invasion of privacy charges are third-degree offenses that can be punished by prison sentences of up to five years upon conviction.
The fifth-year pro missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Cunningham is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, and is unlikely to return to the Jets.
The team has said it is aware of the charges but declined to comment on the arrest.