Shaquille O'Neal denied any role in attack, said alleged sex tape didn't concern him, records show
Shaquille O'Neal detailed his relationship with a man who was kidnapped and beaten after claiming to have a sex video of the NBA star, but O'Neal strongly denied any role in the attack, according to an interview he gave to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department three years ago.
In the interview, O'Neal said that even if a sex tape existed, he wouldn't have cared if it was made public because he and his wife were getting a divorce. He said had a friendly relationship with the victim, Robert Ross, but had cut off ties because of Ross' continued criminal problems.
Documents obtained by The Times show that detectives probed whether O'Neal was connected to a beating, robbery and kidnapping of Ross. Detectives found phone records showing a "flurry of calls" between the alleged ringleader of the assault and O'Neal's business partner around the time of the February 2008 incident, a sheriff's investigative report said.
Neither O'Neal nor his business partner, Mark Stevens, has been charged in connection with the case. Prosecutors did charge seven members of the Main Street Crips gang with kidnapping Ross at gunpoint from West Hollywood and beating him while demanding the video.
O'Neal was interviewed by sheriff's investigators in September 2008 at a locker room in USC's Galen Center.
When he was told of Ross' allegation that O'Neal had ordered the kidnapping to retrieve the sex tape, O'Neal "adamantly denied" having been involved, according to the Sheriff's Department report.
He told Stevens to pass that message to Ross, the report states. He also said he didn't believe Stevens would have been involved in any kidnapping scheme, according to the report.
Sheriff's investigators asked O'Neal about his relationship with Ross.
The former NBA all-star center said he had known Ross several years although he was unsure who introduced them. He said Ross knew a lot of people and assisted him in networking around Los Angeles, according to the report.
Even though he knew Ross was from a gang neighborhood, O'Neal told investigators that he tried "to help Ross better himself." He said he met several Main Street Crips members during toy-donation events in South Los Angeles but did not have a personal relationship with them, the report states.
O'Neal told authorities he had severed ties with Ross about a year before the interview because of Ross' criminal troubles, believing that the association would be bad for his image. According to the report, O'Neal said that as Ross began getting in trouble with authorities, he would tell police he was with O'Neal to avoid arrest or citations.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Victoria Kim
Photo: Shaquille O'Neal in 2004. Credit: Los Angeles Times