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U.S. Attorney Apologizes for Grabbing TV Newsman by Neck; Charge Dropped

May 19, 1994

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A television reporter who was grabbed by the throat and shoved by U.S. Attorney Larry Colleton said today he has received an apology and is dropping charges.

Richard Rose, a reporter for WJKS TV-17, said he asked the state attorney’s office in St. Augustine not to pursue the battery charge he filed May 9. The state attorney’s office agreed to drop the matter.

Colleton’s one-paragraph letter to Rose said: ″I wanted to extend my apology for the incident on May 6th. I had no intention of having any physical contact with you and that which occurred was unintentional. This incident has been misconstrued. I look forward to a positive and professional relationship.″

The incident, which occurred at a judicial conference in nearby Ponte Vedra Beach, was captured on videotape. It resulted in both a Justice Department probe and an investigation by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, which forwarded information to the State Attorney’s Office in St. Augustine.

Because Rose now does not want to press charges, and because the incident was not serious enough to cause injury, the State Attorney’s Office will not pursue the charge, said assistant state attorney Patrick Canan.

Colleton has taken a 30-day leave of absence to attend to Naval Reserve commitments while the investigation is being completed.

Rose said he would have preferred a public apology from Colleton, but is accepting his letter.

The encounter came after Rose asked Colleton why he reassigned a veteran drug prosecutor from a major drug investigation. The reassignment had angered a federal judge, who had publicly questioned why it was done.

Colleton’s office is still under a separate review by a grievance committee appointed by a federal judge to look into claims that Colleton had threatened defense attorneys.

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