Australian actor Sam Worthington has been ordered to stay away from a photographer whom he is accused of punching in the face while defending his girlfriend Lara Bingle on a New York street.
The 37-year-old Hollywood star faced Manhattan Criminal Court overnight. He faced two counts of assault in the third degree, attempted assault and harassment and was issued with a restraining order.
During Worthington’s brief court appearance on Wednesday, New York time, Judge Bruna DiBiase ordered the Avatar star to stay away from photographer Sheng Li for six months following their confrontation outside Cubbyhole Bar in West Village on Sunday.
Li has been charged with assault, reckless endangerment and harassment over the incident, in which he is accused of trailing Bingle for four hours on the street before kicking her in the shins. He appeared in court on Monday.
Footage of the scuffle shows Bingle, whom Worthington refers to as his “wife”, attempting to grab the photographer’s camera before Worthington intervenes.
Worthington was represented by high-profile lawyer, Stacey Richman, who told the judge on Wednesday that the actor was being pursued relentlessly by photographers.
“I picked him up this morning and people were standing in front of the car,” said Ms Richman, who has represented rappers Jay Z, Li’l Wayne and Ja Rule.
If convicted of the assault charges, Worthington could face up to a year in jail.
Bingle, who did not accompany her boyfriend to court, alleges that Li had trailed her “on a public street for approximately four hours” before kicking her in the shins, according to court papers.
But Li’s lawyer, Ron Kuby, has accused Bingle of confronting his client and trying to take his camera.
Mr Kuby wants prosecutors to drop the charges against Li and focus on Worthington.
Mr Kuby says the proof is in the paparazzi video footage of Sunday’s altercation, which appears to have begun when Bingle, complaining about being followed by Li, confronts the photographer and allegedly tries to take his camera.
“I think it was outrageous that [Li] was charged at all,” Kuby told the New York Daily News on Wednesday.
“Presumably, once the DA’s office sees the video, they’ll drop the charges.
“Again, it depends on if [New York District Attorney] Cy Vance is a fan of Avatar or not.”
Mr Kuby told Kyle Sandelands and Jackie O on Kiis FM this week that Bingle’s claim that she was kicked “makes no sense”, and suggested Bingle confronted his client because she wasn’t getting paid.
“Maybe she wasn’t getting paid to do it this time? I understand Lara Bingle is a lot like Kim Kardashian; she’s famous for being famous,” he said.
Footage of the scuffle shows Worthington yelling at the photographer: “You f—ing kicked my wife.”
He is accused of hitting the paparazzo “with a closed fist several times on his face, causing a laceration to the bridge of his nose and substantial pain”, according to the criminal complaint.
Police said that Bingle had a bruise on her leg, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Later, to other photographers and onlookers, Worthington yelled: “He kicked the girl, man, he kicked the girl.”
Bingle is seen to yell at the photographers, calling them “parasites” and begging them to leave her alone.
As he spoke to officers, Worthington appears to reveal his fame.
“You know that movie called Avatar?” Worthington is captured in the the footage as saying.
Worthington did not comment when he arrived at Manhattan Criminal Court on Wednesday.
The case was adjourned until May 8, but Worthington will not have to attend as he will be out of the country filming a movie.
smh爱上海同城论坛m.au with AAP