Los Angeles prosecutors on Monday charged sports columnist and ESPN commentator Jay Mariotti with seven misdemeanors in connection with a scuffle with his girlfriend last month. Mariotti was originally arrested on suspicion of felony domestic assault.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
Charges include two counts of domestic violence with injury, two counts of domestic violence, one count of grand theft, one count of false imprisonment and one count of vandalism.
Although Mariotti avoided more serious felony charges (owing to lack of evidence according to prosecutors), each of the misdemeanor counts could result in up to one year in jail if he’s convicted. Mariotti’s lawyer insists on his innocence and that the girlfriend was “extremely intoxicated” on the night in question. He is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Friday.
To avoid serving any time, defendants who find themselves in this type of pickle generally enter into a plea bargain on one or two counts in exchange for a dismissal of the remaining charges; given Mariotti’s relatively high profile, however, it remains to be seen how this particular situation will play out.
Fanhouse suspended Mariotti after the incident, and ESPN says it has no plans to return him to the nightly Around the Horn panel at this time.
USA Today and other media outlets have noted that the often-polarizing columnist has been very critical of athletes who have had run-ins with the law, especially involving altercations with wives or girlfriends.