Embattled ATP Tour board member and broadcaster Justin Gimelstob pleaded “not guilty” to one charge of felony battery Wednesday morning in a Los Angeles court.
The arraignment was the first official step on the way to a potential trial for the 41-year-old American.
Gimelstob is accused of inflicting a savage beating upon 50-year-old venture capitalist Randall Kaplan. The incident took place during a family Halloween event in his Brentwood neighbourhood Oct. 31.
The Telegraph, which has been all over the Gimelstob story despite London, England being a considerable distance away from L.A., had a reporter on site for the hearing.
The newspaper published this quote upon his exit from the courthouse.
“Now that the court proceedings have begun, I can start my vigorous defence, and that’s what I look forward to,” Gimelstob said. “I look forward to defending myself. There’s a whole other side to this story and I look forward to it coming out.”
No comment from Kaplan
Kaplan himself was not in attendance at the arraignment.
A spokesperson released this statement on his behalf.
“We are pleased that law enforcement is moving forward forcefully by filing a felony violation of Penal Code section 243(d) – battery with serious bodily injury – to see that justice is served in this matter.
“Randall Kaplan was pushing his two-year-old child in a stroller with his wife on Halloween when, without warning, he was ambushed from behind tackled to the ground and struck approximately 50 times on the head and face. Mr. Kaplan is still being treated by a doctor for his injuries.
There is no justification for this serious and violent crime. Mr. Kaplan expresses his gratitude to the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for their thorough investigation and professionalism, and he expresses his appreciation to the many witnesses who came forward to speak with law enforcement concerning the attack.”
The arraignment even made the Hollywood gossip site TMZ.
Let’s go to the video
The Telegraph also reported an interesting detail from the judge’s instructions during the hearing.
The L.A. prosecutor’s office handed over a video of the alleged incident to Gimelstob’s defence lawyer, Shawn Holley, as part of the normal discovery process.
It also filed a motion to keep the video private – a notion that the judge in the case, Keith L Schwartz, quickly quashed.
“The case law is completely against you,” Schwartz told the prosecutor about the request to keep a video private between parties that are not related or in a relationship, per the Telegraph. “I’ve been over this with your (department) for the last five years.”
As a result of that, any further developments in the case won’t occur until Jan. 31, so that the defense has time to study the video.
A few days ago, the Telegraph noted the filing of an affidavit in support of Gimelstob from his friend Mardy Fish.
This was not related to the battery case. Rather, it was filed a few weeks ago as part of Gimelstob’s ongoing divorce and custody action.
In the wake of Gimelstob’s arrest, we’re told estranged wife Cary Sinnott returned to court to file for full custody. It wasn’t granted.
But the Fish statement relates to the events on Halloween, principally concerned with detailing young Brandon’s state of mind during the events.
Later Wednesday afternoon, Gimelstob posted a lengthy and detailed statement to his social media regarding the case at hand.
Upon advice of his attorney, Gimelstob is not commenting on the case that is about to wind its way through the courts.
But he does offer details relating to several other recent incidents. Those were laid out in the Telegraph a few weeks ago.
In the statement, Gimelstob refers to “the long history of Mr. Kaplan’s behavior and toxic interference in my life.”
A lengthy, contentious divorce
The Gimelstob-Sinnott divorce situation has been ongoing ever since Gimelstob’s wife filed all the way back in July, 2015. The two were married in 2012.
And it shows no sign of ending any time soon. The list of documents filed and motions put forth is endless.
Most notorious among them was the 22-page temporary restraining order filed by Sinnott fairly early in the process.
Gimelstob “vehemently denies” ever committing “any act of domestic violence” against his Sinnott.
“In fact, Ms. Sinnott, with the assistance of her father, used the threat of domestic violence in an attempt to obtain my agreement on certain custody and financial matters during our dissolution proceeding,” he wrote.
Gimelstob cites several findings by the family court, including the fact that his wife used the threat of getting restraining orders to “get his agreement on certain issues” on several occasions. Gimelstob also filed for a restraining order.
Several events interconnected
All of those orders eventually lapsed a few months later. There is no current restraining order in place mandating Gimelstob to keep his distance.
“Ms. Sinnott and I ultimately stipulated to mutual stay away and other orders. In addition, Brandon has always been safe and well cared for while in my custody, and Ms. Sinnott and I continue to maintain joint legal and equal physical custody of Brandon,” Gimelstob wrote.
Gimelstob maintains that in the incident at the restaurant involving another friend of his wife, Kris Thabit, he was the first to file for a restraining order. The details of the incident, from his standpoint, were confirmed by a third party. it was not a friend of his; rather, it literally was a passer-by on the street.
Tennis.Life has seen closed-circuit video of that event that indicates that Gimelstob was the one who followed Thabit and his companion out the door as they exited the restaurant. The video does not show what actually occurred on the sidewalk outside.
Fighting on the paddle court
As for the incident on the paddle court in 2017 (which resulted in all four players on the court being defaulted out of the tournament), Gimelstob wrote that it was he who was attacked.
Gimelstob quotes statements by two witnesses to the incident.
Dr. Daniel Levi, professor of Pediatrics at UCLA: “The attack was shocking and unprovoked by Justin and his partner Danilo. Neither Justin nor his partner made any homophobic or any other offensive comments during the match.”
Partner Danilo Kawasaki: “In light of the recent rumors, I also want to declare that I was with Justin all day and by his side on court in every match on October 7, 2017. I didn’t hear Justin make any homophobic remarks or comments that could have been interpreted as such.”
And, one final comment from Gimelstob.
“I am far from perfect. I have flaws and have made mistakes in my life; however, I am not the person that has been depicted in the past month. I look forward to working through these challenges.”
So far, the ATP Player Council is standing by Gimelstob. It remains to be seen whether that stance changes, now that the charges have been officialized.
He has taken a leave of absence from the Tennis Channel while he sorts through his personal issues.