21/11/2005-Russell Crowe pleads guilty to assault

Monday, November 21, 2005; Posted: 4:49 a.m. EST (09:49 GMT)

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe pleaded guilty on Friday to reduced misdemeanor charges for hitting a hotel clerk with a telephone in June and was fined $160 and told to stay out of trouble.

Crowe, who won an Oscar for "Gladiator," was given a conditional discharge by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Kathryn Freed and told he must avoid arrest for a year.

The New Zealand native appeared in court for Friday's hearing with his wife and admitted to using a phone to assault a hotel employee but said nothing else.

He could have faced up to one year in jail on the reduced charges. Crowe originally was charged with a felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon -- the phone -- and could have faced up to seven years in jail if convicted.

After sentencing was handed down, Crowe kissed his wife Danielle Spencer -- the woman he was trying to call before using the phone as a frustrated weapon -- before leaving the court without talking to reporters.

In August, Crowe settled a civil lawsuit stemming from the June 6 assault on Nestor Estrada at the trendy Mercer Hotel. Local tabloids reported Crowe paid about $100,000 to settle the civil lawsuit.

The incident took place shortly after 4 a.m. when Crowe returned to the trendy SoHo hotel after promoting the the movie "Cinderella Man." He became irritated when Estrada was unable to put through a call to Crowe's wife in Australia.

Upset, Crowe pulled the telephone out of the wall, went to the lobby, argued with Estrada and threw the phone at him.

The New Yorker magazine reported that Crowe was enraged because the hotel clerk dismissed his frustration by saying "whatever," a dismissive putdown.

source: http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Movi...on=cnn_showbiz