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Jay Mariotti hit, 'emotionally and verbally abused' ex-girlfriend, her attorney says

October 1, 2010 |  7:47 am

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The attorney for Jay Mariotti's ex-girlfriend said there is strong evidence that the sports columnist doled out "both emotional and verbal abuse" to his client, and accused Mariotti's legal team of publicly downplaying the accusations.

Mariotti agreed to plead no contest to a single count of misdemeanor domestic violence in connection with an incident in August in which police said he grabbed and pushed his live-in girlfriend, whose identity has not been released by authorities.

Afterward, Mariotti's attorney Nick Hanna issued a statement that the plea ended what could have been a "long and expensive" case, even as he expressed confidence his client would have prevailed.

But the victim's attorney, Leonard Levine, disputed that.

Levine said that before police intervened in August, Mariotti struck his girlfriend in the face, which resulted in a visible bruise. Mariotti also grabbed and pulled his girlfriend by the hair, destroyed her personal property, and attempted to prevent her from escaping and calling police, according to Levine. Ultimately, he said, a bystander witnessed what was going on and called police.

Levine called the incident "a far cry" from the description put forth by the ESPN personality's legal camp, which described the victim as being drunk and abusive toward the sports commentator. 

A nationally known sports personality, Mariotti has gained a reputation for his unsparing commentary on athletes' actions on ESPN’s "Around the Horn." He also writes for the sports website Fanhouse.com. In the past, he wrote sports columns for the Denver Post and the Chicago Sun-Times.

In connection with the incident, Los Angeles County Court Commissioner John Green agreed Thursday to dismiss the remaining six misdemeanor counts against Mariotti, which included four domestic violence-related counts, grand theft and false imprisonment.

With the plea, Mariotti avoids jail time. Instead, he was placed on three years' probation and required to perform 40 days of community labor, complete a 52-week domestic violence course and stay away from the victim.

According to police, the case grew out of an argument that the couple had at a club in Santa Monica during which Mariotti accused his girlfriend of flirting with another man.

The fight 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.

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.

In the end, Hanna said his client pleaded to a "low-level misdemeanor."

Levine called that "demeaning to women who face domestic abuse."

 -- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Jay Mariotti. Credit: Zap2It

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