Sullinger: Apologies from the bottom of my heart

Sullinger: Apologies from the bottom of my heart
September 3, 2013, 9:00 am
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WALTHAM, Mass. — Celtics forward Jared Sullinger is a free man after his bail was set at $5,000 cash following a domestic abuse incident over the weekend at his Waltham apartment.

Sullinger, dressed in a grey Ohio State Buckeyes t-shirt, sweatpants and his wrists handcuffed, appeared in Waltham  District Court after having been charged with assault and battery, destruction of property valued at more than $250 (a felony) and witness intimidation.

Sullinger released a statement later on Tuesday afternoon following his release: "I voluntarily reported to the Waltham police this morning to respond to charges against me. 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.

"My lawyers have advised me not to discuss the case at this time. But I wanted to immediately and publicly apologize to everyone affected by this situation."

The Celtics also made a statement on Tuesday afternoon following Sullinger's release: "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."

Sullinger's attorney Charles Rankin declined to comment following the ruling by Judge Gregory Flynn. Sullinger's father Satch Sullinger also declined to address the matter as he left the courtroom.

A pre-trial hearing for Jared Sullinger is now set for Sept. 23.

According to the Waltham police report, the incident began on Saturday when police arrived at Sullinger's apartment for a "past domestic disturbance." The victim, Deann Smith, told police she and Sullinger had a verbal argument around 11 a.m. Saturday morning after she "found evidence on his cell phone that he was cheating on her."

The report states that Ms. Smith was in the bedroom and began to pack up her belongings and was planning to leave. Seeing her packing things, "the argument got very heated and Jared began yelling at her to get out," states the report. The report also indicates that, "Jared pushed her down onto the bed and got on top of her."

Ms. Smith states in the report that "she tried several times to get up but he kept pinning her down and would not let her up." While on the bed, the report states 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."

Ms. Smith said in the report that she was able to grab her cell phone and told Sullinger she was going to call the police.

"As soon as he heard her say that, he immediately grabbed the cell phone from her and walked away," the report states. She later found the phone in another room smashed, but operational.

The report states the two continued to argue until Sullinger left for a trip to Ohio, a visit that his attorney said in court on Tuesday afternoon had already been arranged earlier. Police called Sullinger in Ohio to alert him of the allegations, adding that they wanted to get his side of the story.

"But he did not wish to speak with me (officer) because the outcome would not change," the report stated.

Shortly after that, the report says Sullinger was made aware that a warrant for his arrest on assault and battery against Deann Smith, destruction of property over $250 (the iPhone) and intimidation of a witness.

At that time, Ms. Smith declined to have an emergency restraining order against Sullinger put into effect.

The 6-foot-9 forward, projected as a starter this season for the Celtics, met with his attorney at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and turned himself into the police about an hour later.

Domestic abuse incidents have taken on even greater concern locally since the death of Jennifer Webster which also occurred in Waltham. Her boyfriend Jared Remy, who had a history of mentally and physically abusing her prior to her death last month, has been charged with the killing.

"The court has to look at each case . . . individually," Rankin said.

Despite the incident, Sullinger will be allowed limited contact with Ms. Smith who has been his girlfriend for more than two years. The two can have telephone conversations, but any face-to-face encounters must have a third party present with that third party being someone of the victim's choosing.

In addition, Sullinger must notify the courts if he plans to take any trips outside the state of Massachusetts that are not job-related.

This incident certainly delivers a black eye to what has been an otherwise positive summer for Sullinger. After being limited to 45 games last season due to season-ending back surgery, Sullinger has been impressive this summer during workouts.

With the Celtics having traded away Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn, Sullinger was viewed as one of the players to be called upon this season to provide leadership and even more importantly, help fill some of the enormous void left defensively by Garnett's departure.

"There's no question he can," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told in an exclusive interview last week.

"But there's two parts of that. He's very capable of doing that. He's a very bright guy. He's working very hard and has the whole time I have been here. He's been in town most of the summer. The other side of that coin is he has to have an expedited learning curve for a young guy. He's younger than (rookie Kelly) Olynyk. He's supposed to be a senior in college now, so he's still young. Can he do that? Absolutely. Can we expect him to do that at Garnett's level on October 7? No. It's going to be a process helping him get there. But he's committed to getting there as soon as he can."

But Sullinger's impact on the Celtics will likely get off to a delayed start.

Regardless of the outcome in all this, Sullinger is expected to be hit with a multi-game suspension.

In 2007, Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) was suspended seven games after he plead no contest to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.