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Judge Orders Actor's Arrest for Not Showing Up

January 11, 1996|PAUL ELIAS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VENTURA — A frustrated Ventura County judge ordered the immediate arrest Tuesday of television personality Sasha Mitchell after the Westlake resident failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance for the third time in two months.

Mitchell, 28, pleaded no contest to beating his pregnant 25-year-old wife in September and was placed on probation for three years.

But Mitchell, who is featured in the ABC sitcom "Step by Step," was ordered back to court Tuesday to explain his apparent failure to comply with terms of his probation. Under those conditions, he was to contact a probation officer, spend 10 days picking up trash along Ventura County freeways and sign up for domestic abuse counseling sessions.

Prosecutors allege that Mitchell has not complied with any of the conditions.

"He is not taking the crime of domestic violence seriously," Deputy Dist. Atty. John Colombo said. "He is basically laughing at the court."

Neither Mitchell nor his attorney, David Dudley of Los Angeles, appeared in court Tuesday. Mitchell hired another lawyer, Philip Cohen, to appear instead and ask for a later court date.

"It is my belief that he is with his wife and [newborn] baby," Cohen told Municipal Judge Bruce A. Clark.

Cohen told Clark that the baby recently had undergone an unspecified medical procedure, which needed Mitchell's constant attention. Cohen also said that Dudley was tied up in a federal court proceeding in Cleveland and unable to attend the Ventura County hearing on Mitchell's behalf.

But Clark was unswayed and ordered an arrest warrant for Mitchell while promising to impose unspecified sanctions on Dudley. Mitchell's bail, which had been $25,000 before the judge revoked it, was increased to $100,000.

"[Dudley] owes this court the same courtesy he owes the federal court," Clark said.

Mitchell has missed two similar court appearances since November, when the Ventura County Probation Department told Clark that Mitchell had done nothing the court had ordered as a condition of his probation.

He also missed a scheduled court date last summer before he made his plea, Colombo said outside the courtroom. Because of the missed court appearances, Colombo said he will urge Clark to send Mitchell to jail for an unspecified period before considering granting him another probation.

An actor and professional kick boxer, Mitchell was accused of hitting and kicking his pregnant wife on two occasions in April, 1994. Jeanette Mitchell was badly bruised in the last attack, according to investigators, but did not seek medical attention. However, she did call police and Mitchell was arrested April 21.

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