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Attorneys: Contrition key to keeping Albert out of jail

September 27, 1997

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Marv Albert will probably be spared a jail sentence because he is a first-time offender and because he has already suffered the loss of his sportscasting career and his reputation, court-watchers say. Even his accuser doesn’t want to see him behind bars.

``He won’t serve a day,″ said Rick Halprin, a Chicago criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.

The former NBC ssportscaster put a stop to testimony about his kinky sex life Thursday by pleading guilty to assault and battery charges punishable by up to a year behind bars and a $2,500 fine. Prosecutors dropped the forcible sodomy charge, which carries five years to life in prison.

Albert’s accuser, Vanessa Perhach told the New York Post on Friday that she opposed a jail sentence for Albert.

``I do not want him to go to jail. He will not survive in jail. The sadness and the pain in him ... he will not last,″ she said in the interview in Saturday’s newspaper.

Perhach said she was coming forward because ``It’s time to take away the stigma of being the `mystery woman. Now that the case is over it is appropriate.″

During the trial, her identity was concealed by the media because of the nature of the charges against Albert.

After Albert pleaded guilty, NBC promptly fired him as a play-by-play announcer for NBA and NFL games, a job that was said to pay about $2 million a year. He also quit as the voice of the New York Knicks for Madison Square Garden Network.

Sentencing was set for Oct. 24.

Halprin said probation is the norm for first-time offenders like Albert. Offenders like him typically have to perform community service and undergo psychiatric counseling, the attorney said.

Prosecutors’ willingness to offer Albert a plea bargain could make him look good in the judge’s eye, the attorney also said. In addition, the sportscaster can use his spectacular and very public fall to his advantage, Halprin said.

``To send him to jail after what he’s been through, it’s not going to make the judge a hero,″ he said.

Roy Black, Albert’s lead attorney, predicted Thursday that Albert won’t go to jail. At sentencing, Black will probably emphasize how much Albert has lost _ his job, his reputation, his dignity _ and ask that his client be placed on probation.

Under the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed not to recommend any sentence to Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick.

Probation officers will interview Albert soon and gather background information for the judge’s consideration at the sentencing.

``Barring any other history, it’s probably a probation-type case,″ said Michael A. Wright of the state Correction Department.

Perhach, 42, testified that Albert pinned her to his bed at an Arlington hotel on Feb. 12, bit her repeatedly on the back and forced her to perform oral sex on him. A second woman testified that Albert made aggressive advances toward her, too _ one of them while he was wearing panties and a garter belt.

That testimony played an enormous role in persuading Albert to enter his plea, prosecutor Richard Trodden said. But it had not convinced all of the jury that Albert was guilty, jurors said.

``Sure there was some doubt in my mind,″ juror Kerri Nelson said on CNN. ``I really came in ... prepared to listen to the testimony before me, so it wasn’t as damaging in my mind to the defense as many have suggested it to be.″

Juror Karen Danczkyk said the credibility of Albert’s accuser was damaged by a tape recording in which the woman appeared to be coaching a cab driver friend to testify against the sportscaster.

``It showed a very different picture of her than she presented on the stand,″ Danczkyk said.

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