Ponson accused of assaulting local judge

Updated: March 3, 2005, 3:08 PM ET
Associated Press

ORANJESTAD, Aruba -- The assault case against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson was postponed Thursday, and a judge gave both sides until May 10 to reach an out-of-court agreement.

 Sidney Ponson
Ponson

The 28-year-old Ponson is accused of committing violence alone or in the company of others in public, kicking a person in the head and battering a person by hitting him in the face with his fist.

If convicted, Ponson faces a maximum sentence of four years in jail, a fine and community service.

Judge Bob Wit, flown in from the nearby Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao to give the case a sense of impartiality, said he took the pitcher's career into consideration in postponing the case.

Wit said that Ponson's livelihood could be jeopardized if he has a criminal record because his U.S. work visa could be taken away. Ponson was born in Aruba, a semiautonomous Dutch Caribbean territory.

"The judge gave a type of cooperation very different from other cases, and for this we are grateful," Ponson's attorney, Chris Lejuez, said outside the courtroom.

Ponson did not make any comments to the media and his agent Barry Paver said the pitcher would return to Florida for spring training later Thursday.

Wit also ordered Ponson to make a considerable donation to a charitable organization in Aruba.

The man Ponson is accused of assaulting, a local judge, declined to comment.

Ponson allegedly punched the judge at a beach in Boca Catalina after several people confronted the pitcher, accusing him of harassing them with his personal watercraft and operating it recklessly.

The judge had minor injuries, authorities said. Ponson left the scene but police detained him later on Dec. 25.

Ponson went 11-15 with a 5.30 ERA in 33 starts last season. He has played with the Orioles except for a brief stint with the San Francisco Giants in 2003. He became a free agent after that season and signed a $22.5 million, three-year contract with Baltimore.

Ponson has a 69-80 career record in seven seasons with a 4.67 ERA and 802 strikeouts in 210 games and 1,313 innings pitched.

In 1998, Ponson became the third Aruban to play in the major leagues. In 2003, he was decorated in his homeland as a knight in the Order of the Dutch Royal House.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press