LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Former Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist and ESPN personality Jay Mariotti was back in court this week, facing new charges after he confronted his ex-girlfriend the same day a court ordered him to stay away from her.
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He pleaded not guilty Wednesday to three felony charges – stalking, corporal injury on a spouse or domestic partner, and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injured. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order.
If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison. His next court date is June 1 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz.
In addition to confronting his ex-girlfriend at a restaurant Sept. 30 — the day he pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor domestic violence — prosecutors said he argued with his former girlfriend again outside a Venice, Calif., restaurant April 15. He allegedly pulled a chunk of her hair out and grabbed her cell phone, while shouting at her, prosecutors said.
As part of a deal reached in the original case with the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, six other misdemeanor counts against Mariotti were dismissed — four domestic-violence-related counts, grand theft and false imprisonment.
In September of las year, Mariotti was charged with pushing and shoving his girlfriend in their Venice, Calif., apartment. When officers arrested Mariotti in August 2010, they noticed cuts and bruises on the woman.
The incident stemmed from a running argument between the couple that started at a club in Santa Monica after Mariotti accused his girlfriend of flirting with another man.
Police said the argument continued at the couple’s Venice-area apartment, where Mariotti allegedly pushed and shoved the woman. During the altercation, Mariotti grabbed her arm, leaving marks, according to police sources.
In that case, Mariotti avoided jail time and was instead placed on three years’ probation and required to perform 40 days of community service. He was ordered to complete a 52-week domestic violence course and stay away from the victim. He could face county jail time in connection for violating probation.
The sports columnist quit the Sun-Times in 2008 and went to a sports website run by AOL.
Never one to mince words, Mariotti set his bridge to the newspaper world aflame in a conversation with CBS 2′s Dorothy Tucker at the time.
“I’m going to be completely honest with you, the profession is dying,” he said in August 2008. “I don’t think I’m breaking any news here.”
His comments prompted angry responses from across the local media. Legendary Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert accused Mariotti of “shouting” at his readers, and “stomping your feet when owners, coaches, players and fans didn’t agree with you.” He called Mariotti’s columns “1,000-word rants.”
“On your way out, don’t let the door bang you on the ass,” Ebert said in concluding his Aug. 28, 2008, letter.
Also upon Mariotti’s resignation, sports columnist Chris De Luca called him “the venom-spewing columnist” who was acting like “a scorned lover.”
In addition to working at ESPN, Mariotti also wrote for the sports website Fanhouse.com, where he is known for criticizing athletes for their actions on and off the field. A nationally known sports personality, Mariotti has gained a reputation for his unsparing commentary about athletes on ESPN’s “Around the Horn.” He has not contributed to ESPN since his arrest.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.