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DA drops domestic violence charges against Harrison

PITTSBURGH -- Prosecutors on Thursday dropped domestic violence charges against Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

An assistant Allegheny County District Attorney told a judge of the decision before a Harrison's scheduled preliminary hearing on charges of simple assault and criminal mischief.

"He has entered domestic abuse counseling. The victim did not request any further restitution and the victim did not wish to pursue further prosecution," said Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney.

Harrison, a 29-year-old All Pro, was arrested March 8. Police said he hit his girlfriend, Beth Tibbott, 29, at her home in Ohio Township, west of the city. The Steelers have said the couple were arguing about whether to baptize Harrison's son.

Harrison told police he and Tibbott argued and that he then broke through her bedroom door, slapped her in the face and snapped her cell phone in half, according to a criminal complaint.

Defense attorney Robert DelGreco Jr. said Harrison has completed anger management and psychological counseling which likely would have been required had the case been tried in court. The couple are trying to work out their differences, DelGreco said, and he confirmed that Tibbott did not want the case to move forward.

The judge approved the decision to drop the charges because, "James Harrison was a first-time offender having no history of violent crime in his background and that he attended an appropriate protocol for anger management," DelGreco said.

Harrison and Tibbott both appeared for the hearing, arriving separately. Neither commented before or after the hearing.

Harrison is the second Steelers player to face domestic violence charges this year.

Backup wide receiver Cedrick Wilson was released last month after he was arrested on simple assault and other charges for allegedly pushing and punching his estranged girlfriend at a suburban restaurant lounge on March 20.

The Steelers have said Wilson was released, while Harrison was not, because Wilson had a history of domestic violence with the woman, including an argument that resulted in her holding police at bay with his gun, did not immediately express remorse or take responsibility for his actions.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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