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Albert spared jail sentence

October 24, 1997

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Former NBC sportscaster Marv Albert was spared jail time today and told his conviction for biting a longtime lover will be dropped if he stays out of trouble for a year.

Albert apologized in court to Vanessa Perhach, who accused him of sexual assault in a hotel room encounter in February.

``I’ve known Ms. Perhach for 10 years,″ Albert told the judge. ``We’ve had this relationship. As I said a moment ago, I’m sorry if she felt she was harmed.″

State Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick rejected prosecutors’ request that Albert serve a short jail term. Albert, 56, faced up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. He pleaded guilty last month to assault and battery, abruptly ending two days of lurid and humiliating testimony about his sex life. Prosecutors dropped a felony sodomy charge in return.

``I have to say that finally common sense has prevailed in this case,″ defense attorney Roy Black said after the judge deferred sentencing.

After prosecutors called Albert to the stand, the judge refused to have them go over details that emerged at the trial. Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Arthur Karp asked Albert if he believed the Feb. 12 encounter was wrong, and Kendrick cut him off.

``He said he’s sorry she was hurt,″ Kendrick said. ``What else can an individual say?″ The judge said he was convinced Albert understands the gravity of what he did.

``In the past, there was consensual biting,″ Albert testified. ``On this particular evening, I did not realize until her testimony that she felt she was harmed.

``For that I am sorry.″

During Albert’s testimony, Perhach quietly shook her head. Later, when prosecutor Richard Trodden described the attack, Perhach wept softly on the shoulder of a female friend.

Albert stopped briefly to thank his supporters as he left Arlington County Circuit Court with his fiancee, Heather Faulkiner.

``This has been a most difficult time for myself, my fiancee, my family,″ Albert said. ``As to the future, I’m just looking to put the pieces of my life back together and eventually restore my broadcasting career.″

``We are hopeful that the tabloid aspect of this case is now over,″ Black said.

Perhach testified in Albert’s trial last month that he became angry when she refused his request to bring a man with her to his hotel room for three-way sex. She said he threw her across a bed, bit her back savagely and forced her to perform oral sex.

At an emergency room later, she was treated for more than a dozen bites on her back.

Another woman, Patricia Masten, testified in Albert’s trial that he called her to his room in a Dallas hotel, greeted her in women’s panties and a garter belt and tried to force her to perform oral sex.

Masten said she was disappointed by today’s decision .

``I feel that my main concern is I hope that other females will not be discouraged by this sentencing,″ Masten said. ``My concern also is that he was a role model. There are a lot of very young people who look up to role models. What kind of a message are we sending out to the children today? Is it, `Do whatever you want to whomever you want at any time you want and you walk away free?′ ″

At the trial, Albert’s lawyers tried to discredit Perhach, claiming she was a liar and a schemer who set out to trap Albert to seek civil damages in a lawsuit.

Perhach’s lawyer, Dan Morissette, said his client was satisfied with the sentence.

``She is most satisfied with the fact that he finally said he is sorry, more than with what the judge did or didn’t do,″ Morissette said.

He also said a personal injury lawsuit against Albert was possible, but added, ``We intend to be reasonable. We would like to settle this matter.″

Trodden refused to comment on Kendrick’s action, but said he wished Albert had offered more of an apology. ``A fuller explication would have been enlightening,″ he said.

Albert’s defense was damaged when a tape of Perbach’s sobbing, choking telephone call to a 911 operator was played in court. Then, Masten testified as a surprise witness, and the defense decided to cut short the trial with a plea bargain.

NBC fired Albert within hours. He resigned from his job as a television announcer for basketball’s New York Knicks and hockey’s New York Rangers on the Madison Square Garden Network.

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