Tennis Channel commentator and former professional tennis player Justin Gimelstob has been charged with assault, the Los Angeles Country District Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday.
The LA County DA charged Gimelstob with one felony count of battery with “serious bodily injury with an allegation of personally inflicting great bodily injury.” Gimelstob pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and is scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 31.
Gimelstob is accused of attacking Randall Kaplan as he went trick-or-treating with his wife and son in West Los Angeles on Oct. 31, prosecutors said. According to the New York Times, Kaplan, a former friend of Gimelstob’s, told police that Gimelstob attacked him without warning from behind, hitting him “at least” 50 times.
Gimelstob, who faces a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison if convicted, argued that it was Kaplan who initiated the altercation by provoking him with insults about his recently-deceased father, the Times said.
Gimelstob is one of the three coaches for John Isner, the 10th ranked male tennis player in the world and the top-ranked American. A frequent contributor to Tennis Channel, Gimelstob is an elected official of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), one of the sport’s seven governing bodies.
“Justin asked Tennis Channel for a leave of absence while he works through this issue,” a Tennis Channel rep told TheWrap. “As he is a longtime, valued member of our network family, we of course granted it to him. We believe that in today’s climate, perhaps more than ever, it’s important to recognize due process and the fact that there are multiple sides to every story. We don’t want to rush to immediate judgment, and will follow this closely as more detail comes to light.”