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Albert Pleads Guilty to Assault And Battery, Loses Job at NBC

By Brooke A. Masters
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

NBC sportscaster Marv Albert put an end to his lurid sexual assault trial but lost his job when he pleaded guilty Thursday to assault and battery for biting a 42-year-old Vienna, Va., woman, accepting a plea bargain in which Arlington County, Va., prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of forcible sodomy.

Albert, who also resigned from his sportscasting job with the cable network that airs New York Knicks games, faces up to of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine when he is sentenced Oct. 24. Under the forcible sodomy charge, a felony, he could have been sentenced to a maximum term of life in prison.

The early afternoon deal came after two days of graphic testimony about oral sex, biting and sexual threesomes, and more than three hours of closed negotiations under the watchful eye of the presiding judge. The deal also came after courtroom surprises from both sides that jurors said Thursday had cast serious doubt on the credibility of both Albert, 56, and the victim.

At the end, Albert stood quietly in front of Arlington Circuit Court Judge Benjamin N.A. Kendrick. "Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty of this crime?" the judge asked. "Yes," Albert said, after looking at his attorney.

The plea came less than 24 hours after the prosecution produced a second woman who said Albert had bit her and tried to force her to perform oral sex. "I felt I had to end this ordeal for myself and my family and my fiancee," Albert said in a brief statement.

The victim's attorney, George DePolo, said in a statement that his client "believes the disposition of this matter is an appropriate one and as a result she feels vindicated."

Three jurors interviewed Thursday said the case was very much still up for grabs. Two were undecided, and a third leaned toward acquittal.

"I don't think that it should have come to trial at all," said juror Michael Selig, 41, an engineer, who said he hadn't made up his mind about the case. "We were told by the judge at the end that he was offered this plea bargain before, and he should have taken it before."

Albert's lead attorney, Roy Black, said he advised the deal because Kendrick had ruled he could not use much of the information his investigators unearthed about the victim, including a charge - eventually dismissed - that she had threatened an ex-boyfriend in Washington by telephone. "Approximately 85 to 90 percent of our defense has been excluded. It makes it hard to move ahead," Black said.

For Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden, the bargain came after the defense had seriously damaged the victim's credibility with an audiotape in which she appeared to be offering a witness money to corroborate her story. "Assault and battery is an unlawful touching done in an angry, rude or vengeful manner. We think it is appropriate that Mr. Albert pleaded guilty to that charge," Trodden said.

For NBC, where Albert has been NBA play-by-play announcer since 1977, the plea after days of testimony about his fondness for women's underwear, threesomes and oral sex was apparently just too much.

"This past May, when charges against Marv Albert became public, Mr. Albert asserted his innocence and assured NBC's senior management that there was no basis whatsoever to the charges," NBC said in a statement. "Today, given Mr. Albert's plea of guilty to assault and battery, NBC terminates its relationship with Marv Albert."