- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 28 (UPI) — Boxer Tony Ayala was released from jail Tuesday after a judge dismissed charges that he violated his probation by having sex with a 14-year-old girl.

The teenager had claimed she and Ayala, 39, had sex twice last November, once in the backseat of his car and once in the bedroom of his father's San Antonio home. But the girl admitted under cross examination by defense attorney Jimmy Parks that she made up the story, and State District Judge Maria Teresa Herr went so far as to appoint an attorney for the youngster to represent her in a possible perjury prosecution.

"He's absolutely ecstatic," Parks said of Ayala. "To be sitting there in court hearing this stuff and realizing that you could go to prison for 10 years and have your life ruined if anybody believes this, and then to suddenly be told that you're free to go, it's just an amazing feeling."

If true, Ayala could have been immediately sent to prison for up to 10 years for violating his probation for burglary. He could also have been prosecuted for statutory rape.

The one-time middleweight contender spent 16 years in prison in New Jersey for raping a woman in 1983. After his release in 1999, Ayala attempted to restart his boxing career and won several fights, until he was arrested in December of 2000 after he was shot in the shoulder by the resident of a San Antonio home. She claimed Ayala had broken into her home intending to rape her, and he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge as his trial was beginning.

The credibility of the 14-year-old witness was strained from the start of Ayala's hearing. She had previously told a Child Protective Services worker that she had made up the story. Finally, Assistant District Attorney Scott Simpson asked Herr to drop the charge.

"The prosecution had recognized that she had not told the truth under oath," Parks said.

Ayala's father, prominent boxing promoter and trainer Tony Alaya, Sr., told reporters following the hearing that the family of the 14-year-old "made up" the story in an attempt to extort money.

"Have you ever heard the word 'extortion?'" the elder Ayala told reporters. "This girl is a victim too. They used her to try to get money from us."

The girl's father emerged from the courtroom while Ayala was making his comments and lunged at Ayala in the courthouse hall. Sheriff's Deputies had to step in to separate the families.

"I don't need their money!" he father yelled.

The elder Ayala said his son plans to resume his boxing career soon. Ayala had to cancel a lucrative bout in Miami Beach after being arrested on the charge in December. Ayala Junior has been in jail without bond pending Tuesday's hearing.

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