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ESPN personality Jay Mariotti pleads no contest to misdemeanor domestic violence charge

September 30, 2010 |  1:01 pm

ESPN sports personality Jay Mariotti pleaded no contest Thursday to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence in connection with an incident in August in which police said he grabbed and pushed his girlfriend.

As part of a deal reached with the Los Angeles city attorney's office, Los Angeles County Court Commissioner John Green agreed to dismiss the remaining six misdemeanor counts against Mariotti that included four domestic violence related counts, grand theft and false imprisonment.

"Jay is very pleased to have this matter behind him and is anxious to get back to work," said Mariotti's attorney Nick Hanna. "While we are confident he would have prevailed at trial, the process would have been long and expensive. Today's resolution -- a no contest plea to a low-level misdemeanor with all of the other charges dismissed -- ends the matter once and for all."

Mariotti avoids jail time and was instead placed on three years probation and required to perform 40 days of community labor, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney's office. He must also complete a 52-week domestic violence course and stay away from the victim in the case.

Hanna called the sentence standard for such a misdemeanor.

In addition to ESPN, Mariotti also writes for the sports website Fanhouse.com, where he is known for criticizing athletes for their actions on and off the field. In the past, he wrote sports columns for the Denver Post and the Chicago Sun-Times. A nationally known sports personality, Mariotti has gained a reputation for his unsparing commentary of athletes on ESPN’s "Around the Horn."

The case stemmed from his arrest in August after a running argument between the couple that started at a club in Santa Monica after Mariotti accused his girlfriend of flirting with another man.

Police said the argument continued at the couple’s Venice-area apartment, where Mariotti allegedly pushed and shoved the woman. During the altercation, Mariotti grabbed her arm, leaving marks, according to police sources.

Police were called to the apartment and found his girlfriend, who has not been identified, with cuts and bruises.

Mariotti originally was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic assault. He was released from jail on $50,000 bail. But the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said there was not enough evidence to charge him with a felony.

Hanna said Mariotti is vulnerable to exaggerated or false accusations because he is a public figure.

"Jay regrets having put himself in a position to have a public argument with his female companion, and was simply attempting to get her home safely," Hanna said. "While he is deeply saddened by how this was portrayed, he is wiser for having lived through it."

-- Andrew Blankstein

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