Erickson domestic charge is dropped

`Recantation' by girlfriend leads prosecutors not to proceed on assault charge

`No other independent evidence'

Orioles pitcher claimed innocence from outset

August 27, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Orioles pitcher Scott Erickson won't be charged with second-degree assault after authorities interviewed his girlfriend, closing a case that included his arrest in Baltimore last month.

Erickson was taken into custody July 22 after a heated argument with Lisa Ortiz at their downtown apartment. He was scheduled to appear before a domestic violence judge on Sept. 6 before city prosecutors elected not to press charges.

"The victim was interviewed by the prosecutor, and her testimony bordered on a recantation," said state's attorney spokeswoman Margaret T. Burns. "With no other independent evidence, the case just could not proceed."

Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said the team had no comment. "It's a private matter," he said, "and Scott has dealt with it."

Erickson accompanied the Orioles to Texas yesterday, where the club will begin a three-game series tonight.

Scott Shellenberger, Erickson's attorney, said he was "extremely pleased" with the prosecutors' decision.

"After reviewing the facts, they determined that Mr. Erickson did not commit a crime, which is what Scott's position has always been," Shellenberger said.

Police said they arrived at Erickson's apartment and discovered Ortiz "curled up in a ball shape form crying." The couple apparently began to argue after Ortiz accused Erickson of cheating on her.

The report said police observed no injuries to Ortiz, who later issued a statement saying Erickson never has been physically abusive toward her. She dismissed the episode as "a case of miscommunication."

Erickson also downplayed the incident later that day after arriving at Camden Yards, and team officials, including majority owner Peter Angelos and manager Mike Hargrove, rushed to his defense. Erickson pointed out he called police after Ortiz allegedly began throwing objects in the apartment and tearing down a rack of clothes in the closet. When police arrived, they noticed Erickson's right foot was bleeding and he had a mark on his right arm from where Ortiz apparently had bit him.

Police said Erickson grabbed Ortiz around the waist, picked her up and carried her out the front door, leaving her in the hallway. She tried to re-enter the apartment more than once before Erickson dragged her by the hair to the elevator, according to the report.

Erickson and Ortiz refused medical treatment, and Ortiz didn't fill out or sign a domestic violence report.

Asked by reporters that afternoon if he was sure he'd be exonerated, Erickson said: "Yes, there's no doubt in my mind. There's no problem. There's nothing. It's just a bad break.

"Nothing happened. It's a situation where they [police] had to do something and it got blown out of proportion."

Erickson is the team's longest-tenured player, having arrived in a 1995 trade with the Minnesota Twins. He started on Opening Day this year after missing 20 months recovering from ligament-transplant surgery on his right elbow, but is 5-11 with a 5.25 ERA.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Orioles tonight

Opponent:Texas Rangers

Site:The Ballpark in Arlington (Texas)

Time:8:05

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (14-5, 3.14) vs. Rangers' Dennys Reyes (1-1, 9.24)

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