Actor Emile Hirsch charged with assault for choking a woman

2015-02-13 08:33
emile hirsch

Salt Lake City — Emile Hirsch was charged on Thursday with assault after police said he put a studio executive in a chokehold and dragged her across a nightclub table while he was in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival.

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

County prosecutor Ryan Stack confirmed that the woman, Daniele Bernfeld, is an executive for Insurge Pictures, a Paramount Pictures subsidiary.

Court documents say the altercation occurred on 25 January 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, 29, of Encino, California, told police he didn't know Bernfeld but was having an argument with her.

He said he had three to four drinks. An officer reported to prosecutors that the actor's balance was off, he was slurring his words and smelled of alcohol.

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.

His agent Brian Swardstrom and attorney Robert Offer didn't immediately return messages seeking comment on Thursday.

Neil Kaplan, a Utah attorney listed for Hirsch in online court records, also didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

Hirsch was not arrested and was scheduled to make his first court appearance on 16 March at a court in Park City. Stack said the filing of charges came two weeks after the altercation because time was needed to secure key information. He did not elaborate.

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.

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.

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