Celtics’ Jared Sullinger arrested in domestic dispute, pleads not guilty to assault charge

Dan Devine
September 3, 2013

Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of assault and battery, malicious destruction of property and witness intimidation stemming from a "domestic situation" with his girlfriend that took place over the weekend.

Joe Dwinell of the Boston Herald reports that police received a call on Saturday evening about a domestic issue at the Waltham, Mass., residence Sullinger that reportedly shares with his girlfriend, Deann Smith, but the second-year forward out of Ohio State left before officers arrived; prosecutors say the Columbus, Ohio, native flew back to Ohio after the alleged incident for a pre-planned trip with his parents. A warrant was then issued for his arrest. Sullinger, 21, turned himself in to police at 6 a.m. Tuesday and was placed under arrest, according to MyFoxBoston.com.

During his arraignment in Waltham District Court on Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that, in the midst of an argument over "perceived infidelity," Sullinger "pinned [his] girlfriend to [the] bed, pushed her and snatched her phone when she tried to call police," according to David Abel of the Boston Globe. Sullinger’s girlfriend was not taken to the hospital, police told Wicked Local Waltham. Sullinger will be released on $5,000 cash bail and can only have contact with the alleged victim by phone or with another person present. He must return to court on Sept. 19.

WBZ-TV's Christina Hager shared a photo of the Waltham police report filed in court Tuesday. The Globe's Abel has more from the arraignment:

[...] police said they were called to the townhome shared by the couple around 8 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, Smith told them that she confronted Sullinger, whom she suspected of cheating on her. The two argued verbally, and the argument intensified when Smith started packing up her belongings, according to the report.

“During this heated argument in the bedroom, Jared pushed her down onto the bed and got on top of her. Deann states she tried several times to get up, but he kept pinning her down and would not let her up," Waltham police wrote in the report.

Smith told police that Sullinger threw her off the bed and onto the floor. “He then got on top of her again and would not let her up," police wrote.

She said she managed to grab her phone and told Sullinger she was calling police. He allegedly grabbed it out of her hand and then, after pushing her to the ground one more time, went to the garage and drove away.

She told police she knew that Sullinger was scheduled to fly to Ohio. She said she waited until 8 p.m. to call police because it was only by then that she was certain he was out of state. “Once she was able to confirm he was out of state, she called the police to report the incident," police wrote.

According to police, Smith had red marks still visible on her chest; her phone was heavily damaged, but still operable. [...] Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Sarah Ellis said that Smith told investigators that Sullinger has pushed her around and that she felt threatened by him in the past, but that she never called for help from law enforcement until Saturday.

The Celtics released a statement on Sullinger's arrest and arraignment on Tuesday afternoon:

The Celtics were disappointed to learn of the allegations against Jared and are currently gathering more information on the situation, which we are taking very seriously. We will reserve further comment until such point that we have sufficient additional information.

Sullinger released a statement through the team, too:

"I voluntarily reported to the Waltham police this morning to respond to charges against me. The experience was humbling and embarrassing for me. Yet I know that this situation has brought both sorrow and embarrassment to my girlfriend, my family, the Boston Celtics organization, my teammates, and my fans. To all of you, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.”

“My lawyers have advised me not to discuss the case at this time. But I wanted to immediately and publicly apologize to everyone affected by this situation."

Sullinger was one of Boston's two first-round picks in the 2012 NBA draft; the other, Syracuse center Fab Melo, was recently traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, who waived him this weekend. While Melo never broke into the Celtics' lineup last season, Sullinger showed flashes as a rookie, averaging six points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game in 45 appearances.

After beginning the season as a reserve behind veterans Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass, Sullinger earned a chance to slide into Doc Rivers' starting lineup, but was sidelined soon after, when a back injury worsened the point that he needed season-ending surgery. Concerns about the health of Sullinger's back fueled his drop out of the draft lottery despite All-American play for the Buckeyes. He's been rehabilitating that back injury in Boston throughout the offseason, and is expected to play a more significant role for new head coach Brad Stevens this coming year following the blockbuster draft-night deal that shipped Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets.