For nearly 15 months, “former” NFL cornerback Perrish Cox has faced life in prison as a result of a sexual assault charge with disturbing details. It’s a revolting case that has likely only flown so deeply under the radar because Cox was a little-known rookie fifth-round pick at the time of his arrest.

From the Denver Post last July:

The alleged victim in the Perrish Cox rape case believed she was drugged as she partied with two Denver Broncos on the night she was allegedly raped, and wasn’t sure she had sex that night until she later learned she was pregnant.

DNA tests confirmed Perrish Cox was the father of her baby, though she barely knew him and had never knowingly had sex with him, she told police.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, a former lawyer, reviewed the arrest affidavit last summer:

We realize that Cox is innocent until proven guilty. But the 13-page affidavit, coupled with the DNA result, paints a picture that will be difficult for even lawyer Harvey Steinberg to overcome. The only real question at this point is whether the alleged victim was drugged, or whether she passed out. Either way, with Cox already locked in to the “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” defense, it will be virtually impossible for him to now claim that he did, but that she is lying about being passed out.

The (alleged) incident (allegedly) took place six days before Cox (allegedly) played in his first pro football game, in September of 2010. But this week, Cox’s trial finally (allegedly) begins. If convicted, the former Oklahoma State standout faces two years to life in prison.

It’s strange that the league opted not to forcibly sideline Cox in light of the incident. He’s innocent until proven guilty, but the circumstances of the charges seemingly merited a Michael Vick- or Ben Roethlisberger-like suspension-regardless-of-conviction scenario. That might not have happened because Cox wasn’t a face of the league, whereas Vick and Roethlisberger were.

Or maybe the league simply knew that no teams would touch Cox with a 10-foot pole when considering his lack of elite talent and the details of the charges on his plate. They were right — he was released by Denver prior to the start of last season and, aside from an apparent nibble from the Redskins in November, he didn’t find another NFL job.

Based on the public perception that is likely about to emerge on a mainstream plane, I get the feeling that’ll continue to be the case for a very long time.