Saints' Junior Galette arrested, booked on domestic violence count _lowres

Junior Galette

The misdemeanor domestic violence case against Saints pass rusher Junior Galette won’t be pursued in Kenner court, officials said Thursday night.

That announcement came after the woman who alleged Galette attacked her at his home in Kenner last month filed a lawsuit in Jefferson Parish on Thursday that accused the Saints’ defensive co-captain in 2014 of trapping her in an abusive relationship she described as “open concubinage.”

She also claimed that on multiple occasions she was drugged and sexually assaulted by some of his teammates, none of whom she named.

Because the plaintiff in the lawsuit was the victim of alleged sexual abuse, The New Orleans Advocate is not naming her.

The civil allegations had echoes of the charges that have piled up against Galette’s former teammate Darren Sharper, who is accused of drugging and raping multiple women. But some in the public might find those allegations less credible after the only criminal count Galette had been facing was dropped by the Kenner City Attorney’s Office, which said it acted after interviewing the Saints star and four other witnesses who were at his home the night the woman said she was attacked.

Galette’s attorney, Ralph Whalen, called the lawsuit “a shakedown attempt.” He said the woman filed suit after unsuccessfully demanding a $2 million settlement in writing, something her lawyer did not dispute.

Galette is accused in the lawsuit of “physical abuse, mental and psychological abuse, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, defamation, alienation of the affection of others, cruelty, isolation, human trafficking … and simple rape.”

The only crime on which police in Kenner booked Galette when they responded to an altercation at his home on Jan. 5 involving the plaintiff was simple battery related to domestic violence. On Thursday, Kenner Police Lt. Brian McGregor said none of the allegations in the woman’s lawsuit was made at the time of the arrest.

Another man, Terrance Banks, who was described as a cousin and former college football teammate of Galette, also was arrested that day on a count of simple battery, but he was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. No criminal case will be pursued against Banks either, Kenner City Attorney Michael Power said.

The woman’s suit alleges that Galette and she lived together in “open concubinage” for two years at residences in New Orleans and Houston as well as Galette’s house in Kenner. It says the plaintiff became “totally dependent” on Galette, “trapped in an abusive relationship with no apparent way out.”

The lawsuit also accuses Galette of referring to the woman in demeaning, misogynistic terms and of “methodically” preventing her from calling her mother, other relatives or friends. To keep her silent, the lawsuit claims, he warned her that any steps she took against him would hurt her as well because they would threaten his football career.

The woman’s lawyer, Joseph Raspanti, said Thursday, “We think Mr. Galette is a manipulative predator of women who needs to be stopped.” Raspanti said he and his client would proceed with the suit despite the Kenner City Attorney’s Office’s decision.

The lawsuit alleges that “on more than one occasion” an unnamed Saints player “repeatedly touched and penetrated plaintiff’s vagina with his hand while she was drugged by defendant and/or his agents while attending parties at the defendant’s residence.”

The lawsuit alleges at least five unnamed teammates of the player and Galette “were all witnesses of these acts and knowingly participated in this humiliating and illegal behavior.”

The lawsuit claims the woman was previously drugged unconscious with something referred to as “horny juice.” That specific term was widely reported as a reference to drugged cocktails that came up in court testimony related to an investigation of Sharper, the former Saints safety who is accused of multiple druggings and rapes in various jurisdictions, including New Orleans.

Raspanti said his client knows the identities of the Saints players referred to in her lawsuit. He declined to elaborate on the decision to withhold their names from the petition for damages filed by his client.

A Saints spokesman said the team would not comment on the allegations in the lawsuit against Galette.

On the day Galette was arrested, police responded to a disturbance at his home in the 4400 block of Rue De La Harbor in the Place Pontchartrain subdivision. The woman who summoned police to the residence told officers that Galette and Banks had “jumped” her.

She said they attacked her after they told her to leave the home and refused to give her cab money.

Police said the woman had visible injuries and was bleeding because an earring had been ripped out; they also said she had been scratched in the face and the neck.

The lawsuit claims the argument began over text messages that Galette found on the woman’s cellphone. She claims she was attacked by both Banks and Galette while packing her belongings and trying to leave.

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. He said she came to his house on Jan. 4 and ended up spending the night before he told her to leave.

After the disagreement over cab money, Galette said, she picked up a knife, and he began recording her with his cellphone. Officers said they recovered two videos that Galette made and that both showed the woman holding a knife, repeatedly asking that the police be called and requesting that her cellphone be returned to her.

Galette told police that he never touched the woman — that only Banks did so as he scooped her up and placed her outside the home after she dropped the knife. Banks said the same thing, according to police.

In a statement later released through Whalen, Galette said any injuries suffered by the woman were caused by his pit bull, which was alarmed at the commotion.

The lawsuit claims that the dog — Scar — snarled at the woman but never made contact.

In his statement, Galette also said multiple witnesses at the home at the time of the disturbance would support his version of events.

On Thursday, said Power, the city attorney, a prosecutor in his office specializing in domestic violence spent the morning interviewing Galette and four other people who were at Galette’s home on Jan. 5.

From those interviews, the prosecutor, Howie Peters, concluded that there was not a case he could prosecute because Galette’s accuser did not live at the house, and Kenner’s domestic violence ordinance requires a victim and a defendant to co-habitate. Power added that he did not expect state prosecutors in Jefferson Parish would pursue a case against Galette on an alleged violation of a city ordinance.

Those witnesses had not been interviewed by Kenner police investigators but were produced for Peters, Power said.

Separate from the incident at Galette’s house, Banks and two other people were arrested on Jan. 12 in Kenner for alleged illegal possession of drugs. Banks coincidentally was driving Galette’s car when he was stopped for having “extremely dark-tinted windows.” Galette was not with Banks at the time.

Power could not say whether those arrested with Banks on Jan. 12 were interviewed by Peters on Thursday.

Whalen said he was informed by Peters about the refusal of the case against the Saints player.

“This confirms what we have said from the beginning about Junior Galette’s actions and character,” said Whalen, whose client has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Whalen on Thursday released a Jan. 26 letter from Raspanti that read, “In an attempt to resolve this matter short of filing, I will agree to settle this matter” for $2 million. Raspanti’s letter said its contents were to be considered “confidential settlement negotiations” that should not be “divulged to anyone.”

Whalen’s statement on Thursday said, “We unequivocally rejected their offer because we are confident an investigation and a full hearing of the facts will reveal that Junior Galette behaved appropriately and will be cleared.”

Raspanti said the NFL had not tried to contact him or his client following Galette’s arrest. Under a personal conduct policy the league adopted in December, it’s possible Galette could be suspended for six NFL games in 2015. The NFL adopted the policy after several high-profile players were implicated in domestic violence incidents during the 2014 season. A dropped criminal case might reduce Galette’s chances of being disciplined.