Actor Sean Penn was charged with battery Friday for...


LOS ANGELES -- Actor Sean Penn was charged with battery Friday for allegedly assaulting a Grammy-winning songwriter in a nightclub because the man was talking to Penn's wife, pop singing star Madonna.

If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Penn, 25, the star of such movies as 'Bad Boys,' 'The Falcon and the Snowman' and 'At Close Range,' could be sentenced to County Jail for six months and fined $1,000.


The alleged victim is David Wolinski, 37, a former musician in the pop group Rufus and a songwriter who won a Grammy for his work on the soundtrack of the movie 'Beverly Hills Cop.'

Authorities said the incident occurred about 12:30 a.m. April 12 at the trendy Helena's nightclub, a popular celebrity hangout near downtown Los Angeles.

Wolinski told police he spotted Madonna leaving the club and said goodnight to her. He said that upset Penn, who asked, 'Why did you try to kiss my wife?'

He said Penn then knocked him off his chair, kicked him and picked up a podium to throw at him before another patron interceded and stopped the fight.

Deputy City Attorney Alice Hand said Wolinski suffered bruises and swelling on his face, legs and lower body, but was not hospitalized.


The charge against Penn was filed after attorneys for the actor and Wolinski failed to reach an out-of-court settlement, Hand said. The District Attorney's Office declined to file felony charges against Penn.

One of Wolinski's attorneys, David Dudley, said the songwriter might file a civil lawsuit against the actor.

Penn, who remains free without bail, faces arraignment Aug. 19 in Municipal Court.

The actor is represented by attorney Howard Weitzman, whose clients have included former automaker John DeLorean, rock star Ozzy Osbourne and Cathy Evelyn Smith, the woman who recently pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter in the 1982 drug overdose death of comedian John Belushi.

In October 1985, Penn was fined $100 and given a 90-day suspended sentence after pleading no contest to two counts of assault and battery involving an incident in Nashville, Tenn., with two British journalists.

Both journalists later filed civil suits in Los Angeles claiming Penn assaulted them after they approached him and Madonna in June 1985 to interview and photograph the couple for a story about their upcoming wedding. The couple was wed in a much-publicized ceremony in Malibu last August.

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