Judge Orders TV Star's Arrest After He Again Fails to Appear

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A frustrated Ventura County judge on Wednesday ordered the immediate arrest of television personality Sasha Mitchell after the Westlake resident failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance for the third time in two months.

Mitchell, 28, pleaded no contest in September to beating his pregnant 25-year-old wife and was placed on probation for three years.

But Mitchell had been ordered back to court Wednesday to explain his apparent failure to comply with terms of his probation, which included contacting a probation officer, spending 10 days picking up trash along Ventura County freeways and signing up for domestic abuse counseling sessions.

Prosecutors allege that Mitchell has not complied with any of the conditions.

"He is not taking the crime of domestic violence seriously," Deputy Dist. Atty. John Colombo said. "He is basically laughing at the court."

Neither Mitchell nor his attorney, David Dudley of Los Angeles, appeared in court Wednesday. Mitchell hired another lawyer, Philip Cohen, to appear instead and ask for a later court date.

"It is my belief that he is with his wife and [newborn] baby," Cohen told Municipal Judge Bruce A. Clark.

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Cohen told Clark that the infant girl had recently undergone an unspecified medical procedure that needed Mitchell's constant attention. Cohen also said that Dudley was tied up in a federal court proceeding in Cleveland and unable to attend the Ventura County hearing on Mitchell's behalf.

But Clark was unswayed and ordered an arrest warrant for Mitchell while promising to impose unspecified sanctions on Dudley. Clark increased Mitchell's bail to $100,000; it had been $25,000 before the judge revoked it.

"[Dudley] owes this court the same courtesy he owes the federal court," Clark said.

Mitchell has missed two similar court appearances since November when the Ventura County Probation Department told Clark that Mitchell had done nothing the court had ordered as a condition of his probation.

He also missed a scheduled court date last summer before he made his plea, Colombo said outside the courtroom. Because of the missed court appearances, Colombo said he would urge Clark to send Mitchell to jail for an unspecified period before considering granting him another probation.

"Mr. Mitchell is not taking this case and this conviction for spousal abuse seriously enough," Colombo said.

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An actor and professional kick boxer, Mitchell was accused of hitting and kicking his pregnant wife on two separate occasions in April 1995. Jeanette Mitchell was badly bruised in the last attack, according to investigators, but did not seek medical attention. But she did report the second incident to police, and Mitchell was arrested April 21.

He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of spousal abuse, battery and child endangerment in September. Mitchell was charged with child endangerment because one of the couple's other two daughters witnessed one of the assaults.

In return for the no contest pleas, prosecutors dropped a fourth charge of battery. A no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea but cannot be used against the defendant in a civil suit.

Mitchell is featured on the popular ABC sitcom "Step by Step," where he portrays a cool but simplistic character.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. Studios, which produces the show, declined to comment on Mitchell's legal problems.

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