Loading...

Assault charge against Steinburg dismissed

Loading…

Reggie Ponder

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The District Attorney’s Office has dismissed a misdemeanor assault charge against state Rep. Bob Steinburg following the alleged victim’s decision to drop his complaint.

Russell Haddad, former campaign manager for Steinburg’s opponent in last year’s state 1st House District race, announced Monday that he was dropping the charge because he wanted to put the incident that produced it behind him.

“I have spent a lot of time and effort to help better the quality of life for residents in North Carolina, primarily northeastern North Carolina,” Haddad, a former legislative aide to U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, said in a statement Monday. “That continues to be my goal. Therefore, after much thought I have made the tough decision to extend an olive branch to Rep. Steinburg and drop the simple assault charges against him.”

While Haddad says he still believes Steinburg “should take responsibility for his actions” he believes dropping the charge against the new legislator is “the most productive solution to the situation.”

“It would have been nice for him to have picked up a phone and made a simple phone call and said ‘I’m sorry for what I did,’” Haddad said. But dropping the charges “will allow the both of us to continue our efforts without distraction, hopefully in some cases jointly.”

Haddad said he contacted District Attorney Frank Parrish Friday and that Parrish replied by e-mail Saturday that he would respect Haddad’s wish not to proceed with the case.

Steinburg, R-Chowan, indicated late Monday that he was pleased with Haddad’s decision to drop the charge.

“Mr. Haddad did the right thing,” Steinburg said.

Haddad obtained a warrant for Steinburg’s arrest for misdemeanor assault after an incident that happened following a Sept. 27 candidates forum at Perquimans High School. Bill Luton, the Democratic candidate for whom Haddad was working, was engaged in a heated conversation with Steinburg, at the time the Republican candidate for state House. Seeing the conversation from across the gym, Haddad went over and began filming the two candidates with his camera phone.

Haddad alleged in the warrant that Steinburg grabbed him by the neck while trying to take the camera away from him.

Steinburg has acknowledged trying to swat the camera phone out of Haddad’s hand after telling him that his discussion with Luton was a private conversation. But he has said he does not recall grabbing Haddad by the neck.

The misdemeanor charge against Steinburg was scheduled for a hearing in District Court three times after Steinburg's victory over Luton in November. Each time, however, the case was continued. The most recent continuance was granted this week because of a state law that makes service in a current General Assembly session grounds for a delay. The current session of the General Assembly began last week.

Haddad said Monday that “all parties involved in the heat-of-the-moment incident” — Luton, Steinburg and himself — “could have handled the situation better.”

The misdemeanor assault charge against Steinburg was scheduled for a hearing in District Court twice after Steinburg’s victory over Luton in November. But because Steinburg’s attorney was busy in court in another judicial district, the case was continued both times.

Haddad said Monday that “all parties involved in the heat-of-the-moment incident” — Luton, Steinburg and himself — “could have handled the situation better.”

Asked how the incident could have been avoided, Haddad said he believes in retrospect that Luton should have walked away rather than continuing the conversation with Steinburg.

Haddad also said he thinks he should have encouraged Luton to walk away, and, that even though he had a right to film video of the incident in a public venue, it probably was a mistake to shoot the video.

“I shouldn’t have taken out the camera,” Haddad said. “We all had a role in what I consider an embarrassing incident. We all made decisions that really weren’t smart.

“It is time to put the matter behind us and move forward.”

Loading…