Omar Sharif Pleads No Contest to Battery
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Omar Sharif pleaded no contest Tuesday to misdemeanor battery and was ordered to take an anger management course for punching a parking valet who refused to accept his European currency.
The Egyptian-born actor, known for his roles in "Doctor Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia," wasn't required to be in court and the plea was entered on his behalf by attorney Harland Braun. Sharif, 74, was in Egypt on Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge Richard A. Stone placed Sharif on two years' probation and ordered a 15-hour anger management program, which he can take in Egypt. Sharif was also ordered to stay 100 yards away from the victim, witnesses and the restaurant where the incident occurred.
The judge set an April 18 hearing to determine the amount of restitution to the victim. Outside court, Braun said the victim was asking $17,000 for a broken nose.
"It's a trial over a nose," Braun said.
A no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea for sentencing purposes in a criminal case, but it can't be used as an admission of guilt in a civil case.
A civil lawsuit filed by valet Juan Anderson alleged Sharif and a female companion were leaving Mastro's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills on June 11, 2005, when the actor became upset that his Porsche sport utility vehicle wasn't waiting.
According to the lawsuit, Sharif was belligerent and intoxicated and called Anderson, a Guatemalan immigrant, a "stupid Mexican" when he refused to accept a 20 euro note.
Anderson alleged Sharif then punched him.
Braun said Sharif decided to plead no contest because it would cost too much to fly to Los Angeles and testify.
"It didn't make much sense to try the case," Braun said, stressing the actor continues to deny wrongdoing. "He's maintained that he didn't do it , but it's really difficult to come here to testify."
As for Sharif's reaction to the case, Braun said: "He was just disgusted with the whole system."
In August 2003, Sharif was convicted of striking a police officer at a casino near Paris. He received a one-month suspended sentence and a $1,700 fine.