Prosecutors in the misdemeanor sexual abuse trial of Washington Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth could call as many as 10 witnesses for a trial scheduled to begin August 23, attorneys said in D.C. Superior Court Monday.
The trial was supposed to start Monday, but Haynesworth’s attorney A. Scott Bolden requested additional time to allow his witnesses to adjust their schedules. With so many witnesses expected, the trial could last as long as four days.
Bolden and prosecutor Heide L. Herrmann had agreed on August 2 as a new trial start date, but changed that to August 23 on Monday. Haynesworth is accused of fondling a cocktail waitress at the W Hotel’s P.O.V. Roof Terrace and Lounge in on Feb. 12.
The trial looms as the National Football League has locked out its players and the Redskins are dissatisfied with the player’s price and performance. “A lot of moving parts”could make a late August trial challenging, Bolden said.
Redskins management has been unhappy with Haynesworth since he signed a rich contract in 2009, and he was suspended for the final four games of last season. They could keep him, cut him or attempt to trade his rights. But a lengthy trial during what is normally preseason could complicate matters.
Senior Judge Patricia A. Wynn was unmoved: “This is his first responsibility and I will expect him to be available on that date,” she said.
Prosecutors had offered to dismiss the sexual abuse charge if Haynesworth would plead guilty to simple assault, but Bolden rejected the deal, saying his client was innocent.
Haynesworth was absent at Monday’s hearing, the second time he has not attended hearings in the case. Haynesworth was also absent from a May hearing, although the judge overseeing that hearing agreed with Bolden’s request to waive his client’s appearance.
Haynesworth’s absence Monday seemed to anger Wynn, who chided Bolden for “making assumptions” that it would be permissible for Haynesworth not to be there.
After the hearing, Bolden said he was surprised by the number of witnesses the government plans to call in its case. “They overcharged it and they are now going to over-try it,” he said.
Bolden said he plans to call between three and five witness.
John Copacino, director of the criminal justice clinic for Georgetown Law School who is not affiliated with the case, said it was “very unusual” for prosecutors to call so many witnesses in a misdemeanor assault case. In an average case, Copacino said, prosecutors usually call between one and four witnesses.
“It’s a high-publicity case and they’re trying to be as thorough as possible,” Copacino said.
In May, Haynesworth reached an out-of-court settlement Monday with a man he allegedly punched in a road rage incident in February, and a misdemeanor assault charge against Haynesworth in Fairfax County General District Court was then dismissed.