Shaquille O’Neal faces new accusations by record producer [Updated]
Shaquille O’Neal was accused in a civil lawsuit filed Friday morning of ordering gang members to kidnap and assault a man in an attempt to retrieve a sex tape the man claimed he had.
The former NBA star’s attorney immediately rejected the accusations, calling them “outlandish” and “pure fiction” in a statement.
The lawsuit is the latest twist in the case involving O’Neal, a record producer and a street gang that is working its way through L.A. criminal court.
Robert Ross, the alleged victim, sued O’Neal and his business partner Mark Stevens in Los Angeles Superior Court, charging that his Feb. 11, 2008 kidnapping occurred with the “full knowledge, consent, and approval” of O’Neal and Stevens. Seven Main Street Crip gang members are currently facing criminal charges of kidnapping, assault and criminal conspiracy in connection with the incident.
“The abductors were acting on behalf of and were carrying out the orders of” O’Neal and Stevens, Ross’ attorneys alleged in the lawsuit.
Neither O’Neal nor Stevens has been charged, and they have denied any wrongdoing to investigators.
Defense attorneys in the criminal case have aggressively questioned the credibility of Ross, a felon with a lengthy criminal record who was eventually labeled an “undesirable informant” by the LAPD. An LAPD memo suggested that Ross was trying to extort money from O’Neal.
In a statement released after the civil suit was filed, O’Neal’s attorney, Michael J. Kump, said: “Shaquille O’Neal befriended Mr. Ross in an attempt to help turn his life around. Sadly, Mr. Ross abused that friendship again and again. Shaquille’s commitment to law enforcement is well known and documented. He will not dignify these defamatory allegations with a response.”
Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Stevens, said, “Ross has always been in this for the money. It’s no surprise he’s filed a lawsuit seeking just that.”
[Updated at 2:24 p.m.: A previous version of this post stated that an attorney for Stevens could not be reached for comment, but Dyer was later contacted.]
Ross said in the lawsuit that he had been a “close personal friend and confidant” of O’Neal’s, and that the former Lakers center befriended him knowing of his criminal record and his past association with the Main Street Crips. But their relationship soured over a dispute involving a record deal, Ross’s claim that he had a sex tape of O’Neal, and the basketball star’s jealousy over Ross’ affair with his O'Neal's wife, Shaunie, according to the lawsuit.
Ross alleged that O’Neal and Stevens directed gang members to “kidnap, attack, rob and threaten” him “because of the fear that the sex video might become public, and because of Defendant O’Neal’s raging jealousy.”
The lawsuit also contains wild allegations that over the course of their friendship, the basketball star had asked Ross to kill a woman he had impregnated, kill a record producer, kill a gangster who had disrespected him, and to break an NBA player’s shooting arm.
The lawsuit accuses O’Neal and Stevens of false imprisonment, assault and battery, and robbery, among other charges, and seeks unspecified monetary damages.
[Updated at 3:07 p.m.: In court testimony, as well as in statements to law enforcement, Ross has said he never had a sex tape of O’Neal, and lied about the tape in an attempt to get O’Neal and Stevens to give him money he thought he was owed from a record deal.]
-- Victoria Kim
Photo: Shaquille O'Neal in 2004. Credit: Los Angeles Times