|Friday, October 18
Puckett allegedly dragged woman into bathroom
MINNEAPOLIS -- Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett was charged Friday with dragging a woman into a restaurant bathroom last month and grabbing her breast.
The woman had bruises, and her ankle was swollen from hitting a door frame, according to the criminal complaint, which cited several witnesses.
The former Minnesota Twins star was charged with a felony count of false imprisonment and a gross misdemeanor count of criminal sexual conduct.
If convicted, Puckett probably would be put on probation and given less than a year in the county workhouse, according to County Attorney Amy Klobuchar. She said it's unlikely he would be sentenced to the legal maximum of four years in prison and $8,000 in fines.
''The only reason Kirby Puckett was charged today is because he is a famous person,'' said Chris Madel, one of Puckett's attorneys. ''If this were anybody else, this case would have never seen the light of day. We will meet and we will beat these allegations in court.''
Klobuchar strongly denied Puckett is being treated differently from anyone else, and said as far as she's concerned, he was just a guy in a bar who broke the law.
''I do think that it will be a challenging trial because many jurors will know Mr. Puckett,'' she added. ''In the end, we have faith that the Minnesota jury will be fair and base a decision on the facts and on the evidence, and not on who he is.''
Puckett was not present at a brief hearing Friday. He was summoned to report to the county jail for formal booking Monday at 1:30 p.m. He won't have to post the $20,000 bail prosecutors initially sought unless he fails to report. A date for his next hearing has not been set.
Puckett, an outfielder, retired in 1995 after 12 seasons with the Twins, a team he helped win the World Series in 1987 and 1991. He joined the Hall of Fame last year.
''Like most Minnesotans, I remember watching Mr. Puckett help the Twins win two World Series, and he's a great Hall of Fame baseball player. But that night, in that bar, he was no one's hero,'' Klobuchar said.
According to the complaint, the victim was waiting to use the women's restroom at the restaurant in Eden Prairie, Minn., on Sept. 6 when Puckett grabbed her by the arm and dragged her into the men's room. She told police that Puckett pushed her into a stall and put his hand on one of her breasts for several seconds. She said that after a friend of hers yelled into the restroom, Puckett let her go.
The charges are the latest blow to the image of a man who had been one of the state's most respected sports figures.
Puckett's wife, Tonya, filed for divorce in February, about two months after she told police he threatened to kill her during an argument. He denied making such a threat, and prosecutors didn't charge him. The Pucketts reached a tentative settlement this month.
The Twins, for whom Puckett works as executive vice president, issued a statement saying they took the charges seriously and "intend to monitor the situation closely as the legal process runs its course.''
Puckett played in 10 All-Star games during his Twins career, which was cut short by glaucoma. He is blind in his right eye.
He finished with a .318 batting average, the best by a right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio, and Puckett's 2,040 hits are the most by any player in his first 10 seasons.
Puckett is now an executive vice president of the Twins.