The attorney for a woman who in January accused Saints star Junior Galette and another man of attacking her at the football player’s Kenner home says it “is inexplicable” that authorities on Thursday decided against pursuing a criminal case.
Attorney Joseph Raspanti on Friday questioned the reliability of some of the witnesses the Kenner City Attorney’s Office interviewed before opting not to prosecute Galette or Terrance Banks, who had been booked, respectively, with simple battery related to domestic violence and simple battery, both misdemeanors, after a Jan. 5 altercation at Galette’s home.
Aside from Galette and Banks, the City Attorney’s Office spoke with two people who were arrested alongside Banks on accusations of illegal drug possession seven days after the Jan. 5 incident.
Raspanti, who represents the accuser in a civil suit filed Thursday against the 2014 Saints defensive co-captain, added, “They allege to have dismissed the charges (because) they could not prove a domestic relationship between my client and Mr. Galette. They disregarded that at the very least a (non-domestic) battery was committed by Mr. Galette and Mr. Banks on my client which should have been prosecuted.”
He added, “They decided to rely on the testimony of so-called witnesses who were sycophants of Mr. Galette. These were some of the same people who were arrested in Mr. Galette’s car a week later and were charged with possession of illegal drugs.”
Because the woman alleges in the civil suit that she was the victim of sexual abuse, The New Orleans Advocate is not naming her.
Kenner police booked Banks, Anthony Ferla and Brittany Jackson on suspicion of illegal drug possession after a Jan. 12 traffic stop in Galette’s car. Galette was not present.
Kenner City Attorney Michael Power said a prosecutor — domestic violence specialist Howie Peters — met Thursday with Galette, Banks, Ferla, Jackson and another woman who were all at the Jan. 5 disturbance at Galette’s home in the 4400 block of Rue De La Harbor.
Ferla, Jackson and the other woman were not interviewed by officers on Jan. 5, Power said.
Power added that Raspanti’s client wasn’t interviewed again after Galette and Banks were arrested because the City Attorney’s Office considered the interview she initially had with police to be adequate.
Raspanti criticized the City Attorney’s Office for not following up with his client at least after Peters conducted his Thursday interviews.
“My client has always stood ready to speak to any law enforcement agency who would like to inquire about what ... Junior Galette did to her,” Raspanti said.
Nonetheless, he said, “We never put any reliance on what went on in Kenner as it pertains to our civil suit. Our civil suit stands alone and will move forward.”
On the day Galette was arrested, the woman who summoned police to a residential disturbance told officers that Galette and Banks had “jumped” her after an argument over cab money.
Police said the woman had visible injuries and was bleeding because an earring had been ripped out of her ear; they also said she had been scratched on the face and the neck.
Raspanti’s client’s lawsuit claims the argument began over text messages that Galette found on her cellphone. The woman says she had lived with Galette for a couple of years in “open concubinage.”
Galette has offered a completely different account of the incident and his relationship with the woman. He told police she has never lived with him. He described her to the police as a “dancer” he had invited over and who had spent the night.
Galette told police that he never touched the woman but that Banks did as he placed her outside the home after she dropped a knife she’d picked up. Banks — described as a cousin and college teammate of Galette — concurred, according to police.
After Thursday’s interviews, the Kenner City Attorney’s Office said it was dismissing the case against Galette because it did not think it could prove the woman lived at the Saints player’s home. That would have been central to demonstrating Galette violated Kenner’s domestic violence ordinance.
Raspanti countered that the woman’s injuries were enough cause to pursue a reduced simple battery charge against Galette and keep the prosecution against Banks alive.
The lawsuit Raspanti’s client filed accused Galette of trapping her in an abusive relationship. In addition to seeking damages for the Jan. 5 incident, the suit also claimed that the woman had been previously drugged and sexually assaulted.
Ralph Whalen, Galette’s attorney, called the lawsuit “a shakedown attempt.” Whalen said the criminal case’s dismissal showed Galette has done nothing wrong. Whalen also noted that the woman filed suit only after unsuccessfully demanding a $2 million settlement in writing.
Raspanti on Friday acknowledged the woman had not reported to law enforcement the allegations of crimes before Jan. 5 that form part of her civil suit. He reiterated she would cooperate with any law officers wanting to probe the allegations in her suit.