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New Orleans police investigated 'Breaking Bad' actor after sexual assault allegation; D.A. declined to file charges

New Orleans police investigated 'Breaking Bad' actor after sexual assault allegation; D.A. declined to file charges
Actor Dean Norris, best known for portraying DEA agent Hank Schrader on the show "Breaking Bad," was investigated by New Orleans police last year after a woman accused him of sexual assault. (Ursula Coyote / AMC)

New Orleans police last year investigated “Breaking Bad” actor Dean Norris after a woman said he sexually assaulted her, but prosecutors ultimately decided not to file charges, the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office has confirmed.

New Orleans police received a report alleging assault by Norris last June, according to authorities. A 32-year-old Ohio woman who was visiting the city told police that Norris forced a sexual encounter against her will.

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Detectives did not believe there was probable cause for an immediate arrest and requested a “non-arrest consult” with prosecutors late last year, according to the district attorney’s office. After reviewing the case, prosecutors determined there wasn’t enough evidence to merit prosecution, said Ken Daley, spokesman for Orleans Parish Dist. Atty. Leon Cannizzaro.

”Based on the information brought to the D.A.'s office by the NOPD, we would not have enough to go forward,” Daley said. "Should additional evidence be made available, we certainly would reevaluate the case.”

Daley said both Norris and the woman accusing him were “fully cooperative” and provided statements to detectives.

Norris, a 54-year-old veteran actor based in Temecula, is best known for portraying DEA agent Hank Schrader on the popular AMC series “Breaking Bad.” He is currently appearing in the TNT show “Claws,” parts of which were filmed in New Orleans.

Michael Holtz, an attorney for Norris, said the allegations reported to police were not true and contradicted by witnesses and evidence. He declined to elaborate on the evidence.

“The fact that the New Orleans police and D.A., after a full investigation, did not issue a warrant or press charges confirms that these allegations are unsubstantiated and not credible,” he said.

The woman told police and The Times that Norris invited her and another woman to drinks at a bar after she asked him for a photo because she was a fan of “Breaking Bad.” Norris, who was with a friend, invited the two women back to a condo where he was staying, she said.

She said she blacked out from excessive drinking and did not remember going to the actor’s apartment, where she woke up the next morning undressed and disoriented. Norris then forced intercourse, despite her repeatedly telling him no and attempting to physically stop him, she told police and the Times.. The Times does not identify persons alleging sexual assault.

“I tried to block him, I told him no. What else can I do?” she said.

The woman said she suffered physical pain after the assault and reported the incident to police a few days later after returning home to Ohio, where she told her husband what happened and went to a hospital for a rape kit. Her husband corroborated her version of events.

“Even though I’m not some Hollywood star, I still matter; it still matters that this happened,” she said. “I need to stand up for myself.”

While the #MeToo movement has prompted police in Los Angeles, New York and London to open investigations into allegations involving producer Harvey Weinstein and other prominent figures in Hollywood, to date, no criminal charges have been filed.

The flood of public allegations has also highlighted the challenge of criminally prosecuting sex cases where the evidence is in effect the victim’s word against the statement of the accused.

In 2015, the New York Police Department investigated an Italian model’s claim that Weinstein groped her but concluded after an investigation that “a criminal charge is not supported.”

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Police in Beverly Hills in 2001 also investigated director Brett Ratner and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons on sexual battery allegations after a woman reported that she was held against her will and inappropriately touched by the two men at Ratner’s home. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to file charges at the time, citing insufficient evidence.

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