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Man sues Shaquille O'Neal over alleged kidnapping

Robert Ross is seeking unspecified damages. Attorneys for the former Laker and his partner call the accusations outlandish.

July 16, 2011|By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

The record producer and former gang member who testified in criminal court that he was kidnapped by gang members looking for a sex tape of Shaquille O'Neal took his claims to civil court Friday, accusing the basketball star of ordering the attack on him.

The former NBA star's attorney immediately rejected the accusations, calling them "outlandish" and "pure fiction" in a statement.

The civil lawsuit is the latest twist in the case involving O'Neal, the record producer and a street gang that is working its way through the Los Angeles County criminal court system. The civil suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Robert Ross, the alleged victim, sued O'Neal and his business partner Mark Stevens in Los Angeles County Superior Court, contending that his Feb. 11, 2008, kidnapping occurred with the "full knowledge, consent, and approval" of O'Neal and Stevens. Seven Main Street Crips gang members are facing criminal charges of kidnapping, assault and criminal conspiracy in connection with the incident.

"The abductors were acting on behalf of and were carrying out the orders of" O'Neal and Stevens, Ross' attorneys alleged in the lawsuit.

Neither O'Neal nor Stevens has been charged, and they have denied any wrongdoing to investigators.

Defense attorneys in the criminal case have aggressively questioned the credibility of Ross, a felon with a lengthy criminal record who was eventually labeled an "undesirable informant" by the LAPD. An LAPD memo suggested that Ross was trying to extort money from O'Neal.

In a statement released after the civil suit was filed, O'Neal's attorney, Michael J. Kump, said: "Shaquille O'Neal befriended Mr. Ross in an attempt to help turn his life around. Sadly, Mr. Ross abused that friendship again and again. Shaquille's commitment to law enforcement is well-known and documented. He will not dignify these defamatory allegations with a response."

Aaron Dyer, an attorney for Stevens, said: "Ross has always been in this for the money. It's no surprise he's filed a lawsuit seeking just that."

Ross said in the lawsuit that he had been a "close personal friend and confidant" of O'Neal, and that the former Lakers center befriended him knowing of his criminal record and his past association with the Main Street Crips. Their relationship soured over a dispute involving a record deal, Ross' claim that he had a sex tape of O'Neal and the basketball star's jealousy over Ross' affair with his O'Neal's wife, Shaunie, according to the lawsuit.

Ross alleged that O'Neal and Stevens directed gang members to "kidnap, attack, rob and threaten" him "because of the fear that the sex video might become public, and because of defendant O'Neal's raging jealousy."

Ross has said in court testimony and in statements to law enforcement that he never had a sex tape of O'Neal, and that he lied about the tape in an attempt to get the money he thought he was owed from the record deal.

The lawsuit also contains wild allegations that over the course of their friendship, the basketball star asked Ross to kill a woman he had impregnated, kill a record producer, kill a gang member who had disrespected him and to break an NBA player's shooting arm.

victoria.kim@latimes.com

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