Puckett facing sexual assault charge

Oct. 18, 2002 at 2:47 PM

MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Major League Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett Friday was charged with dragging a woman into the men's restroom at a suburban Minneapolis restaurant and fondling her breast last month.

Puckett faces charges of false imprisonment, a felony, and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a gross misdemeanor. He could face up to four years in prison and $8,000 in fines.

The incident allegedly occurred Sept. 6 at the Redstone American Grill in Eden Prairie, Mn.

Puckett's attorney, B. Todd Jones, could not be reached for comment.

A warrant has been issued for the Puckett, 42, who is expected to turn himself in for booking on Monday, said a spokesperson for the Hennepin County (Mn.) Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors say Puckett grabbed the woman's left arm below the elbow, pulled her into the men's bathroom by her feet, and grabbed her breast.

According to the criminal complaint, which cites several witnesses, the woman was left with bruises to her left forearm, ankle and right breast.

The unidentified woman said she resisted Puckett's efforts to drag her into the bathroom by deadening her body and grabbing the door-frame around the restroom.

Once inside, the alleged victim said Puckett pushed her into a stall, reached from behind her, and placed his hand on one of her breasts for several seconds.

The woman claimed a female friend of hers yelled into the restroom, at which time Puckett let go, allowing her to escape.

A male witness said he did not see the perpetrator's face, but added that he was African-American, and has a stocky build and bald or shaved head, a description that fits Puckett.

A female friend of the victim told police she opened the bathroom door and saw Puckett pushing the woman near the stalls.

A man in Puckett's party stated that he saw Puckett go into the men's restroom with the alleged victim, but did not notice anything strange about their behavior.

After the alleged attack, the woman called 911 and described the incident as Puckett left the scene.

It has been a difficult year for Puckett, whose wife filed for divorce in February after he reportedly threatened her life during a December 2001 phone argument. No charges were filed.

Puckett has been a beloved member of the Minneapolis community. He played his entire career with the Minnesota Twins (1984-95), led them to two World Series titles, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. His career was cut short by irreversible retina damage to his right eye. He did enough in 12 seasons to earn a place in the Hall of Fame.

The 5-6, fun-loving former centerfielder, was a lifetime .318 hitter with 207 home runs and 1,085 RBI. He was named to 10 consecutive All-Star Games from 1986-95, and won six Gold Gloves.

Puckett retired in July 1996, but has remained with the club as an executive vice president.

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