Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen was the victim of an Internet hoax. (Lynne Sladky / Associated…)
Chris Andersen has been cleared of any wrongdoing as part of an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children unit of the Douglas County (Colo.) Sheriff's Department, both his lawyer and prosecutors have confirmed.
The colorfully tattooed forward for the Miami Heat was the victim of a wide-ranging Internet hoax, known as catfishing, in which a woman in Canada apparently impersonated him while seeking a relationship and gifts from and later threatening a female acquaintance of the player.
According to Mark Bryant, Andersen's attorney and agent, Shelly Lynn Chartier fooled both Andersen and a young woman from California into thinking they were communicating with each other online and by cellphone text when Chartier was really impersonating one to the other.
Andersen was visited by the then-17-year-old woman in Denver, Bryant said, “but again, that liaison was set up by the individual in Canada. [The young woman] came here and they spent time together and left. What transpired after that we believe was a threat from the individual in Canada, presuming to be Chris Andersen to that individual. And that threat subsequently led to the warrants that were executed on Mr. Andersen's house — although they had nothing to do with Chris.”
The age of consent in Colorado is 17.
Chartier has been charged with possession and transmission of child pornography, extortion and uttering threats in Canada. An investigation revealed she had similarly duped at least a dozen other people in several states, Bryant said.
A spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District attorney's office said a 4,000-page report is being reviewed to determine whether charges will be brought against Chartier but that charges would not be pursued against Andersen.
Still, some damage has been done to his reputation. When detectives searched his home as part of the investigation back in May 2012, Andersen, then a member of the Denver Nuggets, was excused from all team-related activities, even though the team was in the midst of a playoff series.
He was released by the Nuggets that off-season and signed during the winter with the Heat, with which he won an NBA title in June.
“I can't tell you how much Chris agonized about the label placed on him and some of the public's perception that resulted from these acts,” Bryant said. “Chris among all things is a member of our community and has a long, documented history of reaching out to children. He's done this through assisting with children's camps, local orphanages, literally [dressing up as] Santa Claus in our community.”
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