She said he'd punched her in the face, leaving her with a bloody nose and emotional trauma, and also had struck her mother and sister.
He said he had merely been defending himself from their threats and was the real victim.
The "she" is world-class hurdler Anjanette Kirkland and the "he" is renowned track coach John Smith of the Irvine-based HSI group, turning their fracas in a Eugene, Ore., hotel into more than a routine he-said, she-said dispute.
Kirkland, whose third-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. championships qualified her for next month's World Championships, said Monday she has suffered from whiplash, headaches and back pain as a result of the incident June 24. Her attorney, Don Wilson of Los Angeles, said Kirkland's mother, Patricia, suffered a broken bone in her leg after being hit by Smith, and that Kirkland's sister, Lakesha Anderson, suffered bruises.
"I wasn't able to train right off the bat. I had to take some days [off]," Kirkland said from Tampa, Fla., where she trains. "This has really been hindering my workouts. . . . I'm just now getting back to focusing on what I have to do. I'm not going to let that one obstacle keep me from my dream."
The incident occurred at the Valley River Inn in Eugene, hours after the U.S. championships had ended. Wilson said he was told that Kirkland and her family were in the hotel's bar area when Smith came over from the bar and congratulated her on her performance. According to Wilson, Smith shook Patricia Kirkland's hand, but she doubted Smith's sincerity and told him he didn't have to say something he didn't mean.
Smith reportedly walked away, but the principals soon resumed their conversation in the bar. Wilson said Smith confronted Patricia Kirkland and began choking her, prompting Anjanette and her sister to intervene. A melee erupted during which, Wilson said, Anderson was knocked unconscious for several minutes and Anjanette Kirkland was punched. Smith told police he had scratches on his face and upper body.
"He was intoxicated," Patricia Kirkland said of Smith. "That I know. I just can't understand why this happened."
Smith is coaching at meets in Europe and could not be reached for comment. His legal counsel, Emanuel K. Hudson, said Kirkland's claims are groundless and stem from her resentment over HSI's decision to drop her as a client earlier this year.
HSI's star-studded roster includes Maurice Greene, Ato Boldon, Bernard Williams, Jon Drummond, Inger Miller, Lawrence Johnson, Torri Edwards and Christine Arron. Hudson would not specify why Kirkland was dropped.
"Anjanette's mother is trying to make something out of nothing," Hudson said. "Anjanette was removed from our group early in the year and they know full well why. . . .
"We have taken the position there's a disturbance here and we need to move on. It's unfortunate she and her family continue to go into this and have required us to take an affirmative and proactive stance. Factually, [Smith] was assaulted and sustained some injuries as a result."
Wilson said he's awaiting word from the district attorney's office in Eugene on whether criminal charges will be filed. If not, he plans to file a civil suit against Smith.
Kent Mortimore, chief deputy district attorney of Eugene, said his office has not finished its investigation and has not determined if charges are warranted. Witnesses reportedly have given conflicting accounts of the incident.
"I'm guessing we'll decide next week sometime," Mortimore said.
Kirkland said she underwent a CT scan to determine the cause of her headaches and was told they will continue. She has also had massage therapy and planned to see a chiropractor.
However, she is determined to compete at the world meet, Aug. 3-12 at Edmonton, Canada. A spokesman for USA Track and Field said Kirkland had reaffirmed her participation.