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Emile Hirsch appears in court on assault charges

2015-03-17 08:51

Salt Lake City - Actor Emile Hirsch is making his first court appearance since being charged with assault for allegedly putting a studio executive in a chokehold and dragging her across a nightclub table while he was in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.

Hirsch was charged last month with aggravated assault, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5 000 fine. He is also facing a misdemeanour count of intoxication.

Hirsch does not remember the events of 25 January at a nightclub in Park City because he drank so much alcohol, his attorney Robert Offer said in a statement released last month. Offer said Hirsch checked into rehab within days of the incident.

The woman Hirsch is accused of assaulting is Daniele Bernfeld an executive for Insurge Pictures, a Paramount Pictures subsidiary, Summit County prosecutor Ryan Stack confirmed.

The court appearance on Monday in Park City was expected to be brief. He is not expected to enter a plea to the charges.

Hirsch is best known for his starring role in Into the Wild. He also appeared in Universal's Navy SEAL drama Lone Survivor, Peter Berg's account of a disastrous 2005 military operation in Afghanistan.


Hirsch was at Sundance for the premiere of the drama Ten Thousand Saints, a movie in which he appears alongside Ethan Hawke and Asa Butterfield.

Court documents say the altercation occurred at Tao Nightclub in Park City, when Hirsch, looking drunk, approached Bernfeld and asked why she looked "so tough".

He also said she was a "rich kid who should not be at Sundance", the documents say.

Investigators say Hirsch grabbed Bernfeld and she pushed him away. He left and sat with friends before coming back and grabbing the woman from behind, the documents state.

She was put in a chokehold and pulled across the table before Hirsch landed on top of her on the floor, authorities said.

Bernfeld told authorities she saw things going dark and might have blacked out momentarily.

Hirsch, 30, of Encino, California, told police he didn't know Bernfeld but was having an argument with her.

Efforts to reach Bernfeld and her employer were not successful. Insurge Pictures distributed the Ben Stiller-produced web comedy Burning Love, which was also on E! cable network.

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