|RANDY MOSS Agent response|
On Day 2 of their she-said, he-said public legal tussle, the former girlfriend who accused Randy Moss of seriously injuring her asserted through her lawyer yesterday that it was Moss - not she - who first proposed "a six-figure settlement with the hopes of not having this incident become public record."
The assertion prompted a swift and vehement denial from Moss's agent and lawyer, who accused Rachelle Washington's lawyer, David K. McGill, of engaging in "a highly unethical" campaign to "extort" as much as $500,000 from the Patriots star.
Moss's agent, Tim DiPiero, clearly livid at McGill's assertion, stated in an e-mail that he contacted the FBI and US attorney's office in Moss's home state of West Virginia last week alleging that McGill was trying to "shake down" Moss. DiPiero said McGill threatened that Washington had "lots of dirt" on Moss and might reveal it unless Moss paid her an amount with "six figures."
"I want the US attorney's offices in Miami and Charleston [W.Va.], the prosecuting attorney of Dade County, and the Florida State Bar, whoever has jurisdiction over Mr. McGill's conduct, to know that I am ready to meet with any and all of them and to testify regarding the blatant threats and attempts to extort money from my client," DiPiero's e-mail stated.
DiPiero, who said McGill initially contacted him Jan. 9, asserted that the Miami-based lawyer eventually insisted he wanted "$500,000, take it or leave it," to stop him from taking legal action against Moss.
McGill, who did not respond to numerous requests for comment, said in a prepared statement that Washington "has been unfairly characterized as someone simply seeking financial gain."
The dispute stems from an incident Jan. 6 at Washington's apartment in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. While Washington and McGill have yet to disclose the nature of her injuries or how they occurred, Moss's lawyer, Richard A. Sharpstein, said Washington suffered no worse than "a minor soft-tissue injury to a finger."
DiPiero said he told McGill he understood the injury occurred because of "a horseplay-type accident." He informed McGill that Moss was sorry about the injury and would pay for her medical bills as well as her pain and suffering, preferably through his homeowners insurance.
"[McGill] said he was not interested in insurance or what her injuries were," DiPiero said. "He said he was evaluating her claim based on what Randy stood to lose."
DiPiero said McGill "threatened that Randy would suffer [the loss of] large amounts of money in future salaries and endorsements and what he claimed would be game suspensions. He also threatened that his client had lots of dirt on him."
McGill gave Moss until 3 p.m. last Friday to pay the $500,000, according to DiPiero. Given his long friendship with Moss and the player's happiness and success this season with the Patriots - as well as the media frenzy the case would trigger - DiPiero said, "I admit that I thought about advising Randy to just pay the $500,000."
DiPiero said Sharpstein and another of Moss's lawyers, Joe Friedberg of Minneapolis, tried to dissuade him. Still, DiPiero made a final attempt Monday to settle the case.
"I still didn't want Randy to face all this craziness, and naturally we wanted to settle this thing and were willing to pay an exorbitant amount to do so, so when [McGill] asked for an offer on Monday, we said something to the effect, 'You said six figures, how about $100,000?' " DiPiero stated. "[McGill] said it had to be $500,000 or nothing. We told him to forget it."
DiPiero said McGill responded by advising Washington to ask for a temporary restraining order against Moss. Washington, 35, who is unemployed and has twice faced eviction proceedings in recent years, received the protection order the same day, effectively giving the case national attention.
Sharpstein noted that McGill, who attended the University of Miami School of Law, has been licensed to practice law for less than two years.
"Maybe he thinks this is a steppingstone to stardom," Sharpstein said. "Unfortunately, he's running a post pattern into the heart of the lion. He's going to get kicked on his butt as if he ran into Mike Vrabel and Tedy Bruschi combined."
McGill portrayed Washington in his statement as a victim of Moss's "reckless and degrading conduct." McGill also cast doubt on the veracity of Moss's public comments Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, suggesting the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver was too impaired at the time of the incident to accurately recall the details.
Washington asserted in a "lethality assessment" of her application for the restraining order that Moss, in addition to owning guns, has a drug or alcohol problem.
While Washington alleged in her petition that Moss "refused to allow [her] to seek medical treatment," Moss told reporters that Washington was free to drive herself from her apartment for medical attention.
"We have heard Mr. Moss's statement regarding the incident," McGill's statement said. "He has acknowledged that he was at Ms. Washington's Florida residence and that was 'guilty' of an 'accident' which occurred. However, Mr. Moss fails to mention how his reckless and degrading conduct rendered Ms. Washington unable to drive her vehicle to seek medical attention. As the evidence will show, there is serious doubt that Mr. Moss is capable of recalling with clarity the exact details of what transpired that evening."
Sharpstein declined to address each assertion in McGill's statement.
"I'm not going to get into a war of words with him," Sharpstein said. "All I can say is, that's a further example of his reckless disregard for the truth."
Though Sharpstein also declined to address specifics of the incident, he said he was aware that Washington visited an emergency room and was referred for an MRI. DiPiero said McGill told him that X-rays on her hand were negative.
"I consider it highly unethical that they demanded exorbitant amounts of money that has no relation to the nature of the injury and threatened to go public with it as if it would derail [Moss's] run to the championship," Sharpstein said.
McGill's statement suggested Washington considered the damage she suffered more than physical harm. Washington, who grew up in Clarksburg, W.Va., about two hours from Moss's boyhood home of Rand, W.Va., has been intimately involved with the football star for 11 years, both parties acknowledged.
Moss, 30, an unmarried father of four children, played college football at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va. He has since earned more than $35 million playing in the NFL for the Vikings, Raiders, and Patriots.
"For the past 11 years, Ms. Washington has cared deeply for Mr. Moss and has been there for him throughout all of his trials and tribulations," McGill's statement said. "However, she refuses to be further disrespected by him. It has never been her intention to hurt Mr. Moss in any way. However, she has suffered mental and physical harm as a result of his actions. She simply wants him to take responsibility for what he has done. As a battery victim, she has shown great strength through this entire ordeal."
The temporary restraining order is in effect until Jan. 28 at 3 p.m., when the parties are scheduled to appear in Broward County Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale. But Sharpstein said he will ask for the hearing to be delayed until after the Super Bowl while his staff further investigates Washington and her claims.
He said Moss will not object to leaving the restraining order intact until the matter is resolved.
"He has no desire to go near this woman," Sharpstein said. "We'll stipulate to staying 25,000 miles away from her."
Moss is preparing to play with Patriots Sunday against the Chargers for the AFC championship, with the winner advancing to the Super Bowl Feb. 3.
"It's really unfortunate timing, but it appears to be exactly what Randy says it is - extortion," Sharpstein said.
Mike Reiss of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.