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May 6, 2009Justin Chaisson, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive lineman from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, pleaded no contest to four gross misdemeanor charges stemming from an altercation with his ex-girlfriend.
Details from a Las Vegas Police Report paint the altercation between Chaisson and his former girlfriend as chaotic and disturbing.
An argument between the two high schoolers erupted in the high school parking lot before Chaisson caught up with his ex-girlfriend at a nearby coffee shop where, according to the report, Chaisson punched his 17-year old former girlfriend in the ribs and forced her into the back of his SUV.
Chassion then drove to the the Las Vegas desert, forced her out of the car and put a screwdriver to her throat, according to the report. When the girl's friends caught up with Chaisson at the scene, the former Bishop Gorman star forced her into the back of his car and drove away from the scene.
He eventually stopped the car and allowed his former girlfriend to leave, according to the report.
The Las Vegas court system initially charged Chaisson with multiple felonies stemming from the incident. But on Wednesday he plead no contest to four lesser gross misdemeanor charges - two gross misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, one gross misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment and or coercion, and one gross misdemeanor charge of malicious destruction of property.
"There were multiple felony charges involved with the original allegations. Some of which would have carried significant prison time if he had been convicted,"? said Chassion's attorney Michael Cristalli. "We, from the very beginning of the case, knew that those charges did not represent the true nature of the case. So ultimately through the discussions with the district attorney's office, as well as our own investigations, we believe, ultimately, that the negotiations were fare in light of the circumstances."
Chaisson was sentenced to three years of probation and 120 hours of community service. The judge also ruled Chaisson will be responsible for restitution of an unspecified amount and issued a no contact order between Chaisson, the victim and a witness.
Chaisson's avoidance of felony convictions will be key in his hopes to continue his football career at Oklahoma.
Chaisson now turns his attention to whether or not he will be able to attend the University of Oklahoma on a football scholarship.
Cristalli says he was aware of Oklahoma's policies regarding admitting student-athletes into their program throughout the case. He believes his client will ultimately make it to OU, although head coach Bob Stoops has made no official statement confirming that conclusion.
"We do anticipate him being able to attend the university," Cristalli told Rivals.com. "Certainly it's up to the university to make those decisions but there's nothing in these negotiations that should prohibit him from entering into the university and participating both academically and athletically.
"We were pretty cautious and conscientious about that and we hope the university understands the nature of the case and ultimately how the resolution worked out. It should afford him an opportunity to continue on with his scholarship and have a great four years at the university."
Oklahoma has plenty of ties with Bishop Gorman High School. David White, the former head coach at Bishop Gorman, has served as a graduate assistant in the OU football program the last two seasons.
The Sooners also currently boast two Bishop Gorman alums in running back Demarco Murray and middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds.
Those ties should help Oklahoma's staff make a better determination of Chaisson's involvement in this incident as well as any questions about his overall character. An incident Cristalli terms a "learning experience" for his client.
"You have to understand this was a situation where there were two young people who were involved in a long relationship - for people in high school - it was probably their first relationship and there were a lot of emotions involved," Cristalli said. "As a result some things happened that shouldn't have happened.
"I think ultimately this was a life lesson for him in a number of ways. Not only do you have to control your emotions in those circumstances, you have to realize the type of persona he has and the situation he's in, it's certainly going to be looked at closer than other individuals are looked at."
Stoops is no stranger to second chances at Oklahoma. For the most part, his track record is solid. But recent history isn't on his side.
Last season Stoops allowed wide receiver Joshua Jarboe to enter the program after he had two felony charges reduced to misdemeanors after being arrested with a gun on campus.
Stoops was burned quickly by that decision as Jarboe showed up on a YouTube video rapping about guns and shooting people. Jarboe was quickly dismissed from the team and ended up transferring to Troy University.
Now he must make another tough decision about Chaisson on the heels of another highly-publicized court ruling.
"Ultimately he is a good kid,"? said Cristalli. "I think anybody who interacts with him will want to know that he is somebody who is considerate and kind. If you look at his history he has done an immense amount of community service. He has a big heart and he's looking forward to going to Oklahoma to participate at the University both academically and athletically, but also in the community as well.
"Hopefully people will give him an opportunity to get to know him and label him as a result of these events. They'll find that he's a real kind, gentle, young man. If you get to know him, he's a person that respects people and I think ultimately the people around him will see that he's a very good person."