DA tweaks Jonathan Majors’ charge, lawyer says he's innocent
NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Jonathan Majors was confronted Tuesday with a revised domestic violence charge stemming from a woman’s allegations that the Marvel star twisted her arm, struck her head and shoved her into a vehicle in New York City in March.
Majors, appearing by video, did not enter a plea to the misdemeanor assault charge and said little else at the arraignment, which lasted all of three minutes.
Prosecutors say the charge was rewritten to reflect the perspective of Majors' 30-year-old accuser, rather than the police officer whose account was used in the original version — an indication she is cooperating with authorities.
Majors, 33, still faces other misdemeanor charges in connection with his March 25 arrest in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, some of which are punishable by up to a year in jail.
His lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, says Majors is innocent. She blasted prosecutors after Tuesday’s hearing for pursuing what she called a “witch hunt” against the actor.
Chaudhry said she provided the Manhattan district attorney’s office with “irrefutable evidence that the woman is lying, including video proof showing nothing happened, especially not where she claimed.” The woman, she said, assaulted Majors.
“Instead of dismissing the allegations in the face of the woman’s clear lies, the DA has adjusted the charges to match the woman’s new lies,” Chaudhry said.
Majors had been a fast-rising Hollywood star with major roles in recent hits like “Creed III” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.” But in the wake of his arrest, the U.S. Army pulled TV commercials narrated by Majors, saying it was “deeply concerned” by the allegations.
Majors' face was beamed Tuesday onto a flat-screen monitor in front of the judge’s bench in Manhattan’s domestic violence courtroom. The room was crowded with reporters straining to catch a glimpse of the celebrity while around them non-famous New Yorkers waited for their cases to be called.
Virtual appearances are an occasional accommodation in the court. But Judge Rachel Pauley warned that Majors must show up in person at a follow up hearing on June 13 or face a possible warrant for his arrest. At that hearing, Pauley said, she will decide on a motion challenging the case that Majors' lawyers have filed under seal.
Majors must also continue to abide by a protection order barring any contact with his accuser, Pauley said.
According to the revised assault charge, Majors’ accuser alleges that he pulled her finger; twisted her right arm behind her back; struck and cut her right ear; and pushed her into a vehicle, causing her to fall backwards.
The woman, who was not named in court papers, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries to her head and neck, police said.
Chaudhry accused police and prosecutors of racial bias against Majors, who is Black. She said a white police officer got in the actor’s face and taunted him when he tried showing the officer injuries that he said the woman caused.
A message seeking comment on Chaudhry’s claims was left with the NYPD and Manhattan district attorney's office.
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Michael R. Sisak, The Associated Press