- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006


In official police report on Mel Gibson’s arrest on drunken driving charges substantiates claims that he made anti-Semitic remarks and threatened a deputy, a law enforcement official said yesterday.

Also yesterday, Sheriff’s Department officials sent prosecutors their case, which also says a tequila bottle was found in Mr. Gibson’s car when he was pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway.

On Saturday, Mr. Gibson released a lengthy statement apologizing for saying “despicable” things to sheriff’s deputies when he was arrested, but he did not elaborate. The entertainment Web site TMZ.com reported that the sheriff’s department was considering eliminating the anti-Semitic remarks from its official report.

The report forwarded to prosecutors cites Mr. Gibson making disparaging comments about Jews, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The district attorney’s office confirmed that prosecutors had received the case and it was under review. A tentative arraignment date was set for Sept. 28.

A sheriff’s spokesman yesterday defended the department’s handling of the case.

“In that case file will be [Mr. Gibson’s] statement, will be our report, will be everything pertinent to his blood alcohol level. We have done our job,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore told reporters at department headquarters. “We hope we’ve done it with not only professionalism and intelligence, but held to the highest standard of legal and moral imperative.”

The Sheriff’s Department, Mr. Whitmore said, was “convinced because of our investigation and because of his own self-illuminating statement that he will be convicted of driving under the influence.”

In his statement, Mr. Gibson said he has struggled with alcoholism and taken steps “to ensure my return to health.”

CNN reported that Mr. Gibson has entered rehabilitation.

The actor was “participating in an ongoing program to deal with this,” his publicist, Alan Nierob told Associated Press yesterday. “The guy is trying to stay alive.”

Mr. Nierob would not elaborate beyond the apology Mr. Gibson issued Saturday in which the star admitted he uttered “despicable” things to deputies during his arrest but made no mention of anti-Semitic remarks.

According to published reports, the mug shot taken of Mr. Gibson when he was booked was not released. Mr. Whitmore said the case investigator would decide when to release it.

The county’s Office of Independent Review, a civilian panel of lawyers that monitors the Sheriff’s Department and claims of misconduct, has opened an investigation into whether authorities tried to cover up Mr. Gibson’s reported inflammatory comments, said its chief attorney, Mike Gennaco.

“Assuming that the report was excised, then the question is, was it done for a good reason within regulations,” Mr. Gennaco said.

Mr. Gibson, dressed in a sheriff’s uniform, has filmed public-service announcements for Sheriff Lee Baca’s relief committee, the Star Organization. The group raises scholarships for children of department employees. In the public-service announcement, Mr. Gibson speaks about the benefits of the Star Organization. He also donated $10,000 to it, Mr. Whitmore said.

“There is no coverup,” Mr. Baca told the Los Angeles Times. “Our job is not to [focus] on what he said. It’s to establish his blood alcohol level when he was driving and proceed with the case. Trying someone on rumor and innuendo is no way to run an investigation, at least one with integrity.”

Asked if the sheriff’s department extended special consideration to Mr. Gibson because of that relationship, Mr. Whitmore said: “Again, and I will say it as long as you wish me to: absolutely not.”

Mr. Gibson was arrested after deputies stopped his 2006 Lexus LS 430 for speeding at 2:36 a.m. Friday. Mr. Whitmore said deputies clocked him doing 87 mph in a 45 mph zone. A breath test indicated Mr. Gibson’s blood alcohol level was 0.12 percent, Mr. Whitmore said. In California, a driver is legally intoxicated at 0.08 percent. The star posted $5,000 bail and was released hours later.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Mr. Gibson’s apology “unremorseful and insufficient.”

This is not the first time Mr. Gibson has faced accusations of anti-Semitism. He produced, directed and financed “The Passion of the Christ,” which some Jewish leaders said cast Jews as the killers of Jesus.

In a 2004 interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Mr. Gibson said he was not anti-Semitic.

“To be anti-Semitic is a sin,” he said. “It’s been condemned by one papal council after another. To be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I’m not.”

Days before “Passion” was released, Mr. Gibson’s father, Hutton Gibson, was quoted as saying the Holocaust was mostly “fiction.” The younger Mr. Gibson has said that he will not speak against his father.

Mr. Gibson, 50, won a best-director Oscar for 1995’s “Braveheart” and also starred in the “Lethal Weapon” and “Mad Max” films, among others. In recent years, he has turned his attention to producing films and TV shows through his Icon Productions. His last major starring role was in the 2002 film “Signs.”

“Passion” — which grossed more than $604 million worldwide — has given Mr. Gibson the ability to finance his own films, giving him a measure of independence from the major studios. His next project is “Apocalypto,” a movie about the decline of the Mayan empire that is being distributed by the Walt Disney Co.

Associated Press Writers Sandy Cohen, Gary Gentile, Jeremiah Marquez and Solvej Schou contributed to this report.

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