Bengals Player Convicted of Domestic Violence Charge
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Dan Wilkinson received a suspended six-month jail sentence for striking his pregnant girlfriend. Then he publicly apologized for the assault.
Wilkinson, 22, the NFL’s top draft choice in 1994, pleaded no contest Tuesday in Hamilton County Municipal Court to the misdemeanor charge of domestic violence involving Shawnda Lamarr.
Judge Dennis Helmick found Wilkinson guilty and warned him that since he has been convicted, he would face a felony charge if he is charged again under Ohio’s domestic violence law.
The judge fined Wilkinson $200 and ordered him, as a condition of probation, to make 20 appearances before high school audiences to discuss domestic violence.
Wilkinson also must pay $53 in court costs. He could have been jailed for up to six months and fined a maximum of $1,000.
``Instead of talking and resolving a problem in the proper way, I struck Shawnda. I deeply regret what happened,″ Wilkinson said in a statement after the hearing. ``There can never, ever be a good reason for one spouse to hit another.″
Wilkinson said he hoped the public would allow him and Lamarr to privately resolve their differences. He would not comment further.
Police said the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Wilkinson punched Lamarr _ then four months pregnant _ in the stomach during an argument at his suburban Symmes Township home Sept. 13.
Lamarr, 20, is due to give birth to the couple’s first child in March. She told the judge she did not want to prosecute Wilkinson nor see him go to jail. The couple are planning to wed, but have not set a date, said Wilkinson’s agent, Jimmy Gould.
Lamarr and Wilkinson said they continue to receive counseling and are preparing for the baby’s arrival. Lamarr told the judge she suffered no permanent injuries as a result of Wilkinson punching her.
Assistant county prosecutor Seth Tieger and defense lawyer Hal Arenstein asked the judge not to send Wilkinson to jail.
Helmick said he would consider a defense request that Wilkinson’s work with his Big Daddy Foundation be counted toward the community service requirement. Wilkinson, whose nickname is Big Daddy, established the foundation to encourage high school students to stay in school.
Helmick noted that under Ohio’s domestic violence law, it is up to the state, not the victim, to decide how a case should be handled. But Helmick said he would note that Lamarr did not want Wilkinson prosecuted.
The former Ohio State star, originally from Dayton, is the Bengals’ second-highest paid player. His base salary was $1,206,300 last season.