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Sitcom Star Pleads Not Guilty in Spousal Assault : Courts: Sasha Mitchell of 'Step by Step' is charged with three new misdemeanor counts in alleged beating. Attorney says police fabricated case.

June 08, 1995|DWAYNE BRAY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sasha Mitchell, a Westlake actor and kick boxer who stars in the television sitcom "Step by Step," pleaded not guilty Wednesday to assaulting his wife and endangering his young stepdaughter.

Wearing an earring and a fashionable blue suit, the 27-year-old defendant was scheduled for trial Monday in Ventura County Municipal Court on one misdemeanor count of spousal abuse.

But the trial was postponed six weeks, until July 18, because prosecutors had charged Mitchell with three more misdemeanor counts since his arraignment in late April.

Mitchell was arrested April 21 at his home after the Sheriff's Department received a 911 call from his mother-in-law, who said he was assaulting his 25-year-old wife.

Prosecutors say that Jeanette Mitchell was sitting on the couple's bed with her 7-year-old daughter when her husband slapped and kicked her. The woman fled to a bathroom and locked the door, but Mitchell kicked a hole in the door and came after her, Deputy Dist. Atty. John D. Colombo said.

"He whacked her upside the head, kicked her in the hip and put a hole in their bathroom door," the prosecutor said.

Prosecutors have charged Mitchell with two counts of battery, one count of spousal abuse and one count of child endangerment. He could face as much as a year in jail if convicted on the misdemeanor charges.

After his arrest, Mitchell was booked in the Ventura County Jail but released immediately on bail, authorities said. His wife was badly bruised but did not seek medical treatment, Colombo said. Jeanette Mitchell told deputies that her husband had beaten her in the past and that she has suffered a concussion and a shattered eardrum, authorities said.

David Dudley, Mitchell's attorney, denied the allegations.

"He is not guilty," Dudley said as he escorted Sasha Mitchell out of the Ventura courthouse.

Sasha Mitchell plays a cool but simplistic character named Cody in "Step by Step," a television program that also features veteran stars Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Sommers.

He is trained in kick boxing and has played roles in three kick-boxing movies, Dudley said.

Dudley accused police of fabricating the case against Mitchell. The lawyer noted that Jeanette Mitchell did not seek medical treatment for her reported injuries.

The lawyer called Mitchell a loving father and devoted husband. The Mitchells have been married about five years.

"He's made kick-boxing movies and he's been involved in kick-boxing training," the attorney said. "Anybody he intends to harm would probably be injured very seriously."

On Dudley's advice, Mitchell declined to discuss the details of the case. He did say that he would never do anything to harm his relationship with his children.

"My kids are my whole life," said the actor. The couple have two children, and his wife has a daughter from a previous marriage.

His sitcom character is popular with children, and the show seeks to promote traditional family values and moral choices. But Mitchell's arrest has not hurt his career, Dudley said.

After the arrest, Mitchell's wife continued to live with him, Dudley said. She moved out of the Westlake home earlier this week, he said.

Jeanette Mitchell appeared in court Wednesday with her 7-year-old daughter as prosecutors asked Municipal Judge Bruce A. Clark to keep Mitchell from contacting them. The judge denied that request.

Colombo said prosecutors would be seeking to introduce evidence at trial showing a pattern of spousal abuse by Mitchell. Mitchell has no previous criminal convictions, according to authorities.

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