WALTHAM — Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger has begun seeing a counselor as he and his long-time girlfriend try to move on from a recent domestic violence incident.
Sullinger, 21, was arraigned September 3 after being charged with assault and battery, destruction of property, and intimidation of a witness after a dispute involving Sullinger and his girlfriend, Deann Smith, at their Waltham home on August 31. During the arraignment, Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Sarah W. Ellis asked that Sullinger undergo a mental health evaluation. District Court Judge Gregory C. Flynn refused the request, adding that it was too soon in the criminal justice process for such an examination to be necessary.
Sullinger was released on $5,000 cash bail, but was also ordered to stay away from the apartment he and Smith shared and could only see her if a third party was present. However, they are allowed to communicate by phone.
Both Sullinger and Smith -- who, according to court documents, has since moved back to Ohio with her parents -- filed paperwork last week with the Waltham District Court indicating their desire to have the court's ruling on September 3 modified. Sullinger's attorney, Charles W. Rankin, said his client "has begun seeing a counselor" as part of an effort to improve his relationship with Smith.
In the motion filed on behalf of Sullinger last week, he was seeking to have the stay away and no unsupervised contact provisions modified. According to court records obtained by CSNNE.com, a hearing was held last week and the motion has since been allowed.
A spokesperson for the Middlesex District Attorney's office said they were opposed to any changes to Flynn's earlier ruling.
"We feel the original ruling was appropriate," said MaryBeth Long.
Smith's attorney, Melinda L. Thompson, filed an affidavit last week which indicated that "the Commonwealth sought a no contact order and an order to stay away from the apartment the two share in Waltham. Ms. Smith addressed the Court at sidebar (on Sept. 3) and told the Court that she opposed the stay away and no contact order. She stated that she did not want to pursue the case and is not fearful of Mr. Sullinger."
The affidavit filed by Thompson later read, "Both Ms. Smith and Mr. Sullinger desire to work on their relationship, even though she will live in Ohio. Ms. Smith desires to be able to have in-person contact with Mr. Sullinger without the presence of a third person. That is an important factor in being able to work on their relationship. Ms. Smith is not in fear of Mr. Sullinger, and wants to be able to spend time with him to work on their relationship during the pendency of the case."
A pre-trial hearing for Sullinger is scheduled for September 23.
Sullinger's motion to modify the Court's Sept. 3 ruling echoed the sentiments of Smith.
"Ms. Thompson indicates that Ms. Smith is in favor of eliminating the stay away and the no unsupervised contact orders," Rankin said in his filed motion.
The motion filed by Rankin later read, "Mr. Sullinger and Ms. Smith hope to improve their relationship. Mr. Sullinger has begun seeing a counselor. Mr. Sullinger does not believe that the stay away or no contact orders are needed or appropriate in this case."
Sullinger was viewed by most as a lottery (top-14) pick leading up to the 2012 NBA draft, but slid to the C's at No. 21 because of concerns about his back. He appeared in 45 games for the Celtics, with five starts, and averaged 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Sullinger's season was cut short because of back surgery.
The 6-foot-9, 260-pound forward spent the bulk of this summer in Boston strengthening his entire body for what many expect will be a more prominent role with the Celtics.
But this incident puts the start of his season in doubt, with Sullinger possibly being suspended at the start of the season for this domestic violence incident.
Shortly after his September 3 arraignment, Sullinger issued a statement discussing how this incident 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."
The Celtics issued a statement on the incident on September 3 as well, and coach Brad Stevens spoke on the matter on September 5.
"Certainly very disappointed," Stevens told Comcast SportsNet. "And when I talked to him, he was very remorseful and certainly disappointed."
Stevens added, "What we've done is try to find out as much as we possibly can, and let the court process play out."