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Harris Charged With Third-Degree Assault

January 3, 1996

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Minnesota Vikings defensive end James Harris was charged today with breaking the nose and collarbone of a woman he recently married. He also is being investigated for bigamy.

The criminal complaint said Harris grabbed the woman by the hair, then struck her in the face, throwing her against the back of an elevator at their apartment building on Friday.

Harris dropped off the woman, identified only as J.C.H., at a hospital emergency room, where doctors determined that she suffered a broken nose and collarbone. Harris, 27, was arrested when he returned to the hospital and has remained in custody since.

According to the complaint, Harris told police that he pushed the woman off when she came at him and tried to scratch him Friday night. He also said he did not hit her.

After hearing reports that Harris’ wife had been assaulted, his first wife, Bonnie Harris of Philadelphia, contacted media in the Twin Cities to say she was OK.

Harris’ agent, Jeff Durand, said Harris married J.C.H. within the past 90 days.

When asked if Harris has two wives, Durand said this morning, ``Technically, yes.″

``It is important that it is understood he filed for divorce (from Bonnie) in March 1994 and in James’ mind, since the divorce was not contested and such a period of time went by...James believed he had won a default,″ he said.

Eden Prairie police, where the woman was assaulted, said the bigamy issue remains under investigation.

Harris, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, was charged this morning with third-degree assault. He stood with his hands clasped in front of him and stared at the floor during the proceeding. Bail was set at $20,000 and his next court appearance is scheduled Jan. 25.

Durand said Tuesday that both Harris and the woman have acknowledged they are ``equally guilty.″

``It was a mutual slapfest and, unfortunately, she took the worst of it,″ he said.

Harris was the Vikings’ starting defensive end two seasons ago. But a foot injury and decline in performance led to his demotion to backup with the team this past season.

His contract with the Vikings expires in mid-February. The team has decided not to re-sign Harris, which means he is free to seek a spot with another NFL team.

Harris is the second Vikings player this year to be accused of spousal abuse. Quarterback Warren Moon was charged with assaulting his wife at their suburban Houston home on July 18. His wife, Felicia Moon, has asked that the charge be dropped. Trial is set for February in Texas.

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