In December 2023, Jonathan Majors was found guilty on charges he assaulted his ex-girlfriend in the back of car. He was convicted on one count of reckless assault and one count of harassment, though he was acquitted on intentional assault. The verdict followed a two-week trial in New York state court in Manhattan.
Prosecutors alleged Majors assaulted Grace Jabbari, his former girlfriend, in a car in Manhattan, leaving her with a broken finger and swollen ear and arm. Majors denied the allegations and claimed that Jabbari was the one who assaulted him and that she had falsely accused Majors of assault. Both Majors and Jabbari were arrested, though prosecutors dropped the charges against Jabbari on the basis that the case against her “lacked prosecutorial merit.”
After the arrest, Majors’ relations with his management company, public relations firms and several advertisers were ended. Marvel Studios and the Walt Disney Corporation formally ended their contract with Majors after the verdict was publicized. Majors had been cast as Kang, the next major Marvel Studio villain in various movies.
Majors’ sentencing hearing is set for February 6, 2024. The charges he was found guilty of carry a maximum sentence of one year. Manhattan District promotes creative sentencing and alternatives to jail, though the judge may still weigh various aggravating and mitigating factors to determine Majors’ sentence. The judge may reduce Majors’ sentence if this was his first offense and he demonstrates remorse for his actions. Conversely, Majors was found guilty of a violent crime, which may prompt the judge to impose a higher sentence.
Some have suggested that the judge may impose a tougher sentence because of Majors’ fame. However, “making an example” of Majors would be inappropriate. Majors’ career had nothing to do with the assault or harassment. There is no nexus or connection between Majors’ fame and his crime. It is unlikely that anyone would view Majors as a hero or would seek to follow his example. In fact, Majors assaulted Jabbari while they were in a private vehicle and out of the public eye. The rule of law here must adjudicate Majors the same as everyone else, regardless of how well-known he is.
Majors may also opt to appeal his conviction. During the trial, the court reversed a prior ruling barring text messages which were evidence of prior uncharged crimes. In September 2022, Majors sent text messages to Jabbari in which he attempted to dissuade her from seeking medical care related to an unspecified incident.
This type of evidence is typically barred because it is prejudicial to the defendant such that it distracts the jury from the actual case rather than prior “crimes” that the defendant was never convicted or even charged with. The court reversed itself when Majors’ lawyers raised the issue of prior crimes themselves while cross-examining Jabbari. However, the impact of these texts is disputable. The messages made it appear that Majors had a pattern of abusing Jabbari which
greatly increased the probability of a guilty verdict. On the other hand, the jury found him not guilty of the intentional assault charge, which they probably wouldn’t have done if they believed the text messages were evidence of prior intent to harm Jabbari.
Even if Majors’ convictions are overturned though, he will still have suffered a loss in reputation, time, and money, after he was dropped by all the studios and agencies.
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