'Free Willy' Star Jason James Richter Has Domestic Battery Charge Dismissed
By ETOnline Staff
Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for Universal Studios Hollywood
A charge of domestic battery has been dismissed against actor Jason James Richter, best known for his role as Jesse in Free Willy, after a heated argument in October with his then-girlfriend in Los Angeles. He will serve more than three years probation for vandalism, a separate charge stemming from the same incident.
The former child actor, now 38, was arrested at 11:45 p.m. local time on Oct. 15 and booked in Van Nuys, California, at 1:12 a.m. for a misdemeanor, the LAPD confirmed to ET at the time.
Richter spent two nights in jail and was released on $20,000 bail. He was later charged with two misdemeanors, one for domestic battery and one for vandalism.
On Nov. 29, Richter pleaded no-contest to the vandalism charge, according to court docs obtained by ET. The charge for domestic battery was dismissed. Richter has denied all allegations of physical abuse.
Richter was sentenced to probation for 36 months and sentenced to four days in a Los Angeles County jail but the court gave him credit for two days already served and credit for the remaining days. In addition, he will have to pay fines and fees, including restitution to the victim. The amount will be determined at a later hearing. As part of his probation, Richter will also have to enroll in a 52-week domestic violence treatment program within 30 days.
Following his arrest in October, Richter's rep released a statement to ET, which reads: "Jason and his girlfriend were involved in an argument that unfortunately escalated to the point where police were called. However, Jason vehemently denies any physical altercation. He is devastated that anyone has been led to believe otherwise. Jason was released of his own recognizance, the police found no visible marks or bruises and there is every reason to believe that these false charges will be dropped."
According to TMZ, Richter's arrest occurred after he allegedly had an argument with his girlfriend at their home, and things escalated quickly after he asked her about a co-worker and whether they were having an affair. Following the alleged incident, Richter's girlfriend showed up at the police station and filed a report, claiming domestic violence, the outlet reported.
Richter played Jesse, a foster child who befriends a captive orca, in 1993's Free Willy, as well as its sequels, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home and Free Willy 3: The Rescue. The original film celebrated its 25th anniversary in April.
Since then, Richter has landed a number of small screen projects, appearing in shows like Bones, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Criminal Minds.