Kings’ Slava Voynov pleads no contest in deal in domestic violence case
Slava Voynov pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of corporal injury to a spouse Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Torrance as part of a deal to resolve the case stemming from an incident with his wife last year.
The Kings defenseman was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail — the actual amount is expected to be 45 days or less based on good behavior and other factors — and he will be on probation for three years.
Voynov must also complete a 52-week domestic violence prevention program and perform eight hours of community service, the L.A. County district attorney’s office said.
“Mr. Voynov accepts responsibility for his actions the night of the incident and will complete his sentence as required by the court,” Voynov’s agent Rolland Hedges said in a statement. “Mr. Voynov and his wife believe that ending domestic violence both inside and outside of professional sports must be a high priority.”
The statement noted Voynov is “fully committed” to long-term counseling and therapy.
His trial on a felony charge, which carried a maximum of nine years in state prison, had been scheduled to begin next week.
The Kings called Voynov’s punishment “fair and just” in a statement.
“As an organization, the prevention of domestic violence and the education of our players and employees is of paramount importance,” the statement said. “We will continue to actively develop and implement a strategy to deliver this message.”
The NHL indefinitely suspended Voynov — who is in the midst of a six-year, $25-million contract — with pay following his arrest on Oct. 20. The league planned to conduct its own investigation once the legal process concluded.
“Mr. Voynov’s status vis-à-vis the NHL remains unchanged,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an email. “When he is ready to proceed with us, we will be prepared to discuss next steps and a process for determining his NHL eligibility status moving forward.”
The plea might lead to immigration issues for Voynov, who is a Russian citizen.
“A no contest plea, especially if the defendant admits damaging facts, can effectively be treated by immigration officials as a guilty plea,” said Michael McCann, a sports law professor at the University of New Hampshire. “It could be a complicated road ahead.”
McCann said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will assess whether Voynov’s plea warrants deportation, though such a drastic move is seen as unlikely. He also could face complications traveling between the U.S. and Canada for games.
The charges stemmed from an incident in October when Marta Varlamova, Voynov’s wife, told Redondo Beach police the couple started arguing during a Halloween party and he punched her in the left jaw.
The conflict continued that night in a bedroom at their Redondo Beach home, according to the police report, where Varlamova said Voynov choked her three times.
“Voynov pushed her to the ground approximately six to seven times with both hands, telling her that he wanted a divorce and to ‘Get out,’ ” the report said.
Voynov kicked Varlamova five to six times while she was on the ground, she told police.
After she rose, Voynov shoved her into the corner of a flat-screen television, the report said. The collision opened a 1.2-inch gash above Varlamova’s left eye that required eight stitches to close.
The bedroom was “covered in blood,” Varlamova told police.
Attorneys for Varlamova and Voynov repeatedly had described the incident as an accident.
Redondo Beach police officers noted bruising and swelling on Varlamova’s face at Providence Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance, in addition to “red marks and scratches” around her neck. Varlamova indicated to a nurse at the hospital that Voynov had previously assaulted her, according to court documents.
The nurse “asked Ms. Varlamova if this was the first time he had done that to her,” a motion filed in the case in January said, citing a police report. “Ms. Varlamova responded no.”
The officers recorded two interviews with Varlamova that night, but defense attorneys asserted the native Russian speaker doesn’t understand English well and wasn’t provided with an interpreter.
Varlamova had refused to testify if the case went to trial.
“It’s always best if we can resolve these cases as expeditiously as possible while making sure we have a fair and just resolution for the victim,” said Frank Dunnick, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case.
The Kings suspended Voynov last month after he tore his right Achilles’ tendon in an unspecified non-hockey incident. Voynov, 25, had surgery to repair the injury in March.
Now, he’s attempting to put the legal entanglement behind him.
“Mr. Voynov and his family are grateful that this matter is nearly at an end,” the statement from his agent said.
Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this report.
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