Woman suing Steelers' Holmes
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Santonio Holmes, the Pittsburgh Steelers' star wide receiver and the most valuable player of Super Bowl XLIII, has become the latest team member to be accused publicly of boorish and possibly criminal behavior.
A Florida college student sued Mr. Holmes Wednesday for assault and battery, claiming that he bloodied her face March 7 by throwing a glass at her in an Orlando nightclub.
The plaintiff, Anshonae Mills, is a senior at the University of Central Florida. Reached at her job yesterday, Ms. Mills declined comment and referred questions to her lawyer, Jacques L. Cooper.
Mr. Cooper, 25, who has been practicing law for four months, would not discuss the case but said he planned to release further information today.
According to the four-page complaint, Ms. Mills and Mr. Holmes, 26, got into an argument at a club called Rain, which bills itself on its answering machine as "Orlando's newest social mecca."
Ms. Mills was at the club with three college friends. She was sitting on the arm of a couch in the VIP area speaking to someone she knew when Mr. Holmes tried to oust her from her perch by telling her to "Get up" because he had been sitting there, the lawsuit states.
When Ms. Mills refused to move, Mr. Holmes yelled and waved his arms, the suit says. Ms. Mills grabbed Mr. Holmes' hand "in self-defense to prevent him from hitting her or touching her," the suit says.
Mr. Holmes yanked his hand away; the two argued, prompting other patrons to step between them.
Then, the suit says, Mr. Holmes threw a "large" liquor glass at Ms. Mills, striking her below the eyebrow. The complaint said Ms. Mills was cut and temporarily blinded by the alcohol in the glass.
There is nothing to indicate the two knew each other prior to the incident.
Club security removed Ms. Mills "due to her injuries," according to the complaint. Outside the club, Ms. Mills asked a police officer to "reprimand" Mr. Holmes.
"When confronted with the possibility of incarceration, defendant asked to speak with the plaintiff. He proceeded to inform the plaintiff that he was an NFL football player and that he could not face criminal charges. Subsequently, defendant offered to give the plaintiff money because he was a[n] NFL star and he could not get into trouble," the lawsuit states.
Ms. Mills said she "felt pressure" from Mr. Holmes and the Orlando Police Department not to press charges.
"Plaintiff feeling pressured made a short victim statement incoherently stating that she was hit in the face and bleeding near her eyes, however, intended not to press charges," according to the complaint.
Ms. Mills claims police did not write a report.
"She's actually still entertaining the idea of going down [to the police station] and doing so, but we have no further comment on when or if that's going to happen," Mr. Cooper said.
Orlando police do have an incident report, but it does not contain a narrative. It indicates only that officers responded to an unidentified incident at the club's address. They were on scene for less than four minutes shortly before 2:30 a.m.
Orlando police spokeswoman Sgt. Barbara Jones said a full report will be completed. Asked why it is taking so long, she wrote in an e-mail that it "is a policy issue, and that will be reviewed."
Sgt. Jones said she could not comment on Ms. Mills' allegations about feeling pressure from police because of the pending litigation. She confirmed that police have a statement from Ms. Mills but would not release it.
The suit was filed in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. It accuses Mr. Holmes of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Also named as a defendant is J.J. Whispers Group Inc., which runs the nightclub. The company is accused of negligence for failing to protect Ms. Mills and allowing Mr. Holmes to drink heavily and act "inappropriately" toward other patrons.
In that section of the suit, Mr. Holmes is described as "intoxicated, quarrelsome and arrogant ... "
Club employees did nothing to intervene, the suit claims, and "refused to reprimand or remove defendant Holmes based on his celebrity status."
Officers of the corporation could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Holmes spent some time Monday posting updates to his Twitter account.
"Before anyone decides to state unknown fact, please do research 1st. In the end it makes you look like the fool!" read one apparent reference to the situation.
Mr. Holmes' agent, Joel Segal, could not be reached for comment.
Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said the team was looking into the allegations.
"We just found out today. We're gathering information and have no further comment at this time," Mr. Lockett said on Monday.
Mr. Holmes is no stranger to controversy. In October 2008, Pittsburgh police pulled him over and found three marijuana-filled cigars in his vehicle. Officers said Mr. Holmes told them he had smoked marijuana in the vehicle the day before. Prosecutors dropped marijuana possession charges in June over concerns that the traffic stop would not have held up in court.
In June 2006, Mr. Holmes was arrested in Ohio on domestic violence charges, which were later dismissed.
Mr. Holmes also was arrested in Miami Beach, Fla., for disorderly conduct during a Memorial Day weekend crackdown by local authorities in 2006. That charge was later dropped in exchange for a $250 donation to the Police Officers Assistance Trust Fund.
The Steelers are already grappling with a criminal investigation into quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is accused of sexually assaulting a college student earlier this month in Milledgeville, Ga. near his off-season home. He has not been charged in the incident. Also, Mr. Roethlisberger has been sued in Nevada by a woman who claims he raped her at a Lake Tahoe resort in 2008 while he was staying there for a celebrity golf tournament.
And earlier this month, a judge dismissed simple assault and resisting arrest charges against Steelers kicker Jeff Reed, who was accused of raising his fists at a Pittsburgh police officer while police dealt with teammate Matt Spaeth, who was cited for urinating in a North Side parking lot in October.
Mr. Reed still faces disorderly conduct and public drunkenness charges that might be dropped if he completes community service.
First Published March 30, 2010 12:00 am