TORONTO: Canadian police charged Justin Bieber on Wednesday with assaulting a limousine driver in Toronto in December — the latest in a string of legal troubles for the young pop star. The alleged incident happened in the early hours of December 30, when the limousine picked up six people including Bieber, 19, outside a Toronto nightclub, said police in a statement.
Bieber allegedly struck the limousine driver on the back of the head several times during an altercation on the way to a hotel, police said. The driver got out and called the police, but Bieber left before they arrived, according to the statement.
A Canadian lawyer for the pop star issued a statement that said Bieber is innocent. “As the matter is now before the court, it would be inappropriate to address the specifics of either the allegation or of the defense at this time,” it said.
The pop star is scheduled to appear in a Toronto courtroom on March 10. Bieber was charged after appearing at a Toronto police station on Wednesday evening. He arrived in a black SUV and was met by a crowd of journalists and screaming fans, who braved temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius.
Wearing a baseball cap on backwards and hooded black coat, Bieber was mobbed by photographers and fans pushing for a closer look as bodyguards and police officers cleared a path for him to enter the station.
Bieber has been in trouble with authorities in the United States as well this month. He was charged with driving under the influence in Miami after police say he was caught drag racing a rented Lamborghini. Police said Bieber told them he had taken prescription medicine, smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol.
Bieber is scheduled to make a court appearance on February 14 to formally answer those charges. He was also charged with driving on an expired license and resisting arrest.
A petition asking the Obama administration to deport the Canadian pop star after his arrest passed the 100,000-signature mark needed to require an official White House response.
The petition has so far collected about 118,000 signatures since being added by user ‘J A from Detroit’ to the White House website on January 23, the same day Bieber was caught drag racing. However, it is highly unlikely that Bieber will be deported, as US federal law dictates that a visa could be revoked or denied for a conviction of a violent crime with a one year, or longer, prison sentence.
Bieber’s life off-stage has been rocky in the last year with problems ranging from scuffling with paparazzi in London to a felony investigation into whether he pelted a neighbour’s house with eggs in his gated community near Los Angeles. It is not known exactly when the White House will respond to the petition, while the spokesperson for the singer has declined to comment on it.
The recent criminal charges and other problems have not dented his appeal with some fans. A 24-year-old Toronto woman, who identified herself only as Chantal, said when she heard about the appearance she came out to show her support.
“I know he makes mistakes but I’ll always be a fan,” she said. “He’s a 19-year-old guy. I mean every 19-year-old or teenager goes through the same struggles. It’s just not amplified and it’s just not shown to everyone. We support you. Your Beliebers love you,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2014.
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