NBA trio cleared of assault in Toronto strip club fight

Updated: February 20, 2007, 2:57 AM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Gary Payton, Sam Cassell and Jason Caffey were cleared of assaulting a male exotic dancer and his stripper fiance during a confrontation outside a downtown Toronto strip club in 2003.

Justice William Bassel ruled Monday that although Payton likely sparked a dispute with foul language and taunts, he is "not on trial for his vulgar ... and offensive conduct."

The 39-year-old Payton, now with the Miami Heat, was playing for the Milwaukee Bucks with Cassell and Caffey at the time of the alleged assault.

Adrian Cimpean alleged Payton started hitting him after he objected to the athlete insulting his fiance, Vida Asante, as the couple left the club on April 11, 2003.

In July 2005, Cimpean, testified that Cassell and Caffey joined in the assault, that he was kicked in the face and rendered unconscious and left with back pain, brain damage, blurred vision and diminished hearing.

Police also charged Payton with assaulting Asante and another female stripper, while Cassell was accused of assaulting a club bouncer.

But the judge said Monday the couple's testimony was riddled with exaggerations and inconsistencies.

None of the three athletes were present Monday.

Cassell is now with the Los Angeles Clippers and Caffey is retired.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press