It began as a shouting match on a busy Capitol Hill street corner during the frenetic morning commute, a bike-vs.-car incident not uncommon in a big city.
But then the silver-haired, retired Navy lieutenant got out of his car, approached the red-headed ballet dancer riding a bike and allegedly shoved her to the ground, authorities said. He got back into his car and, as bystanders followed him, drove down the block to his nearby office, the bicyclist said.
The man was identified as Ted E. Schelenski, 64, vice president for finance and operations at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank that promotes conservative policies. He pleaded not guilty this week to a charge of simple assault.
The bicyclist, Kristin Hall, 23, said the trouble began about 8:30 a.m. June 14. She was riding on the sidewalk, about to turn onto the 300 block of Massachusetts Avenue NE, when a car stopped in front of her, blocking her path, she said. She stopped her bike and asked the man to move his silver Acura, she said.
But Schelenski wouldn't move, and the two yelled at one another, she said in an interview yesterday.
"It was some kind of road-rage nonsense," Hall said. "When he got out of the car, I told him: 'You're crazy! Get back in the car!' "
But Schelenski came at the 105-pound, communications assistant at the Academy for Educational Development and shoved her to the ground while she was still straddled on her bicycle, she said.
"I was pretty scraped up and bruised," Hall said. "And he just got back into his car and floored it. He took off."
There were several bystanders. One helped Hall up; someone took down the license plate number of the car and watched it go just a block past the scene to the foundation's office. Someone else summoned a nearby U.S. Capitol Police officer, she said.
About 10 minutes later, Schelenski returned to the scene, Hall said, and tried to apologize. "He said he lost his temper," she said. "And then he told the officer that all he did was try to shake my bike. He said I was the one who fell over."
Police arrested Schelenski after he gave them his side of the story and took him to Capitol Police headquarters for processing, according to charging papers filed by prosecutors. He was released and appeared Thursday in D.C. Superior Court. His attorney, Robert Bredhoff, declined to comment on the case, and Schelenski did not return calls to his home or office.
Schelenski is due back in court July 27 for a status hearing.