Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics forward, pleads not guilty to charges that he attacked girlfriend
WALTHAM — Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger repeatedly pinned his girlfriend to a bed and to the floor and snatched her cellphone when she told him she was going to call police during a heated argument inside Sullinger’s townhome here on Saturday, authorities alleged today.
Sullinger, 21, pleaded not guilty in Waltham District Court to charges of assault and battery, intimidation of a witness, and destruction of personal property stemming from the alleged violent incident that ended with Sullinger storming out of the townhome.
District Court Judge Gregory C. Flynn set bail at $5,000 cash. After speaking with the girlfriend, the judge ordered Sullinger to contact her only by telephone or if a third person is present. The girlfriend, Deann Smith, did not seek a restraining order against Sullinger.
Sullinger’s defense attorney, Charles Rankin, said in court that Sullinger and Smith were “long-time sweethearts’’ who met while both were attending Ohio State University. He told the judge that Smith waited 10 hours before she called Waltham police for help on Saturday.
He also said that on Saturday, Sullinger flew back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, for a pre-planned visit with his parents. Once he learned from Waltham police that they had a warrant for his arrest, Rankin said, Sullinger voluntarily returned to Boston where he surrendered to police today without incident.
Sullinger said in a statement, “The experience was humbling and embarrassing for me. Yet I know that this situation has brought both sorrow and embarrassment to my girlfriend, my family, the Boston Celtics organization, my teammates, and my fans. To all of you, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. ... I wanted to immediately and publicly apologize to everyone affected by this situation.”
During the arraignment, Rankin urged Flynn to focus solely on Sullinger’s case and not draw a connection between Sullinger’s case and that of Jared Remy, who is acccused of murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, last month. The day before the slaying, Remy was released on personal recognizance from the same courthouse after an allegation of domestic violence. The case also drew sports fans’ attention because Remy was the son of well-known Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy.
“The Celtics were disappointed to learn of the allegations against Jared and are currently gathering more information on the situation, which we are taking very seriously. We will reserve further comment until such point that we have sufficient additional information,” the Celtics said in a statement.
In a Waltham police report filed in court today, police said they were called to the townhome shared by the couple around 8 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, Smith told them that she confronted Sullinger, whom she suspected of cheating on her. The two argued verbally, and the argument intensified when Smith started packing up her belongings, according to the report.
“During this heated argument in the bedroom, Jared pushed her down onto the bed and got on top of her. Deann states she tried several times to get up, but he kept pinning her down and would not let her up,’’ Waltham police wrote in the report.
Smith told police that Sullinger threw her off the bed and onto the floor. “He then got on top of her again and would not let her up,’’ police wrote.
She said she managed to grab her phone and told Sullinger she was calling police. He allegedly grabbed it out of her hand and then, after pushing her to the ground one more time, went to the garage and drove away.
She told police she knew that Sullinger was scheduled to fly to Ohio. She said she waited until 8 p.m. to call police because it was only by then that she was certain he was out of state. “Once she was able to confirm he was out of state, she called the police to report the incident,’’ police wrote.
According to police, Smith had red marks still visible on her chest; her phone was heavily damaged, but still operable.
Sullinger is 6-foot-9 and weighs 260 pounds, according to the Celtics website.
In court today, Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Sarah Ellis said that Smith told investigators that Sullinger has pushed her around and that she felt threatened by him in the past, but that she never called for help from law enforcement until Saturday.
Ellis also asked that Sullinger undergo a mental health evaluation, a request that Flynn refused, saying it was too soon in the criminal justice process to require Sullinger undergo such an examination.
Sullinger is due back in court Sept. 19.
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