Friday, October 8, 2004

Rape charges against actor thrown out

By Woody Baird
The Associated Press

A judge dismissed rape charges against Barbershop actor Anthony Anderson on Wednesday in Memphis, saying testimony by his accuser was some of the most "suspicious" he has ever heard.

Judge Anthony Johnson said the woman's testimony at a preliminary hearing did not produce probable cause to let the charges stand.

"This is absolutely the most suspicious case I've ever heard," the judge said.

Defense lawyers said the 25-year-old woman accused Anderson in hopes of getting money from him. The judge "thought this case needs to be stopped and stopped right now," defense attorney Leslie Ballin said.

The woman was seeking a job as an extra in the film Hustle & Flow when she accused Anderson and assistant director Wayne Witherspoon of attacking her in a trailer on the movie set.

A rape charge also was dismissed against Witherspoon.

Testifying to the judge, the woman acknowledged having sex with both Anderson and Witherspoon over a period of several days before the reported attack. She said those encounters also were forced but she didn't report them.

Anthony is the rotund comic co-star of Kangaroo Jack and the original Barbershop, in which he portrayed a thief who is seen throughout the movie trying to get away with an automatic teller machine.

Anderson and Witherspoon refused comment on their lawyer's advice as they left the courtroom.

Allan Mayer, a spokesman for Anderson, said the charges were obviously "trumped-up."

"That said, this has been a terrible ordeal for him and his family, and he is eager to put it behind him and move on with his life and career," Mayer said.

The state prosecutor's office said no decision had been made on whether to pursue the case again.

"We learned more at the preliminary hearing than we knew before," said spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals. "We'll look at all the evidence and make a decision."

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