Haynesworth avoids a trial
He pleads no contest to simple assault
WASHINGTON - Albert Haynesworth pled no contest to a charge of misdemeanor simple assault yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, avoiding trial on a more serious charge of misdemeanor sexual abuse. During the 35-minute hearing, the government detailed the facts it would have proven during trial, describing how last February Haynesworth slid a credit card down a waitress’ dress when ready to pay a bill at the W Hotel in Washington and fondled her left breast.
Asked for a response to the facts presented by the prosecution, the Patriots defensive lineman said, “I do not contest the government’s proffer of facts on this charge.’’
Haynesworth said nothing as he left the courthouse and reporters peppered him with questions. His attorney, A. Scott Bolden, made a brief statement.
“Mr. Haynesworth is very pleased to have this over in his life and move on with his life, get back to New England and get back to doing what he does best and that’s play professional football,’’ said Bolden. “This was a difficult time for him, his family, and others connected to him. We put up a good fight. The US attorney put up a good fight. This resolution was welcome by us.’’
But the NFL may have its say, too. An NFL spokesman said the league will review Haynesworth’s case under the personal conduct policy.
The policy stresses that players and others associated with the NFL must avoid conduct detrimental to the integrity of the league. Much more than criminal convictions falls into that category. With on-field head-stomping and off-field reckless driving and road-rage incidents in his past, Haynesworth has been far from a model NFL citizen. Last season, the Redskins suspended Haynesworth without pay for the final four games because of conduct detrimental to the team.
If found in violation of the NFL personal conduct policy, Haynesworth could face a multi-game suspension.
“Hopefully, he moves forward,’’ said Bolden. “And he does what he’s supposed to do as far as the conditions of this agreement. I’m positive he’s going to do that. Then, he can put this chapter behind him.’’
If Haynesworth stays out of trouble for 18 months, then the prosecution will move to dismiss the case. As part of a deferred sentencing arrangement, the recently acquired Patriot must perform 160 hours of community service and undergo counseling, if directed, after an alcohol abuse assessment and a psycho-social assessment.
Haynesworth must also stay away from the waitress involved in the W Hotel incident. He is due in court for review hearings after six, 12, and 18 months. He also was instructed to pay $250 to the victims’ fund.
If Haynesworth violates any conditions of the plea agreement, then he goes straight to sentencing and faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine.
“This resolution requires Mr. Haynesworth to atone for his crime while at the same time honoring the victim’s wishes to move on with her life,’’ said US Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. “She will not be forced to relive this upsetting experience again in [court] or to endure the glare of the media spotlight.’’
“For his crime, Mr. Haynesworth will be required to make amends to the community and to address some of the issues that led to this incident. This prosecution makes clear that in the District of Columbia, it is never acceptable to touch anyone without consent, no matter who you are.’’
Still, the fact that Haynesworth plays in the NFL and earns millions of dollars colored the case from start to finish, from the hip rooftop terrace where the incident took place in the early-morning hours of Feb. 13, 2011 to scheduling the six-month review hearing for after the Super Bowl. Last week, both prosecution and defense accused each other of using money to influence proceedings. The trial, which was scheduled to start today, threatened to devolve from there.
Bolden was asked if the waitress involved was paid any money. The prosecution previously alleged that the defense offered money to the waitress numerous times, hoping she would convince the government to drop the case against Haynesworth. “Absolutely not,’’ said Bolden. “She has not been paid any money.’’
Haynesworth arrived at the courthouse in a Cadillac Escalade and, after exiting the vehicle, said, “Go Patriots!’’ Then, when Bolden suggested a late February date for the six-month review hearing, Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin wondered aloud if the preferred scheduling had anything to do with the possibility of Haynesworth playing in the Super Bowl with the Patriots.
“I didn’t want to be presumptuous,’’ said Bolden. “But I thought about the Super Bowl in scheduling.’’
The defensive lineman will return to court Feb. 21, 2012, two weeks and two days after Super Bowl XLVI.
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.