Wednesday 12 December 2018

Tennis supremo Justin Gimelstob facing explosive assault allegations

Justin Gimelstob had been tipped to be the next leader of the ATP CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Justin Gimelstob had been tipped to be the next leader of the ATP CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Simon Briggs

The former grand-slam tennis doubles champion seen as a leading contender to become the most influential figure in men’s tennis is fighting to save his career amid claims of violent behaviour dating back several years. He will appear in a Los Angeles court next month over an alleged assault.

Justin Gimelstob, 41, now a successful broadcaster, is a member of the six-man Association of Tennis Professionals board, and is regarded as well-placed to succeed ATP president Chris Kermode when he steps down.

But Gimelstob, from Newark, New Jersey, will appear in court on Dec 12 after he was arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of violently assaulting Randall Kaplan, a 50-year-old venture capitalist, in front of his wife and two-year-old daughter, on Hallowe’en.

According to a temporary restraining order filed by Kaplan the next day, Gimelstob, dressed in his trick-or-treat costume as a Top Gun pilot, is alleged to have knocked Kaplan, a friend of his estranged wife Cary, to the ground, and hit him on the head and face 50 times, shouting: “I am going to kill you.”

The hearing represents a significant threat to Gimelstob’s career. The son of an insurance magnate, his net worth is estimated to be $5.4 million (£4.2 million). He is currently on bail of $50,000.

While The Daily Telegraph understands Gimelstob’s lawyers are hopeful of reducing the charges relating to the Kaplan incident to a misdemeanour, the LA Police Department is still listing it as a felony – the most serious category of offence under US law – under penal code section 245.

A spokesperson for Kaplan indicated that he has ongoing injuries.

According to the spokesperson, Kaplan has also received “a large amount of emails, texts and phone calls from people describing past assaults, threats, and other events involving Justin Gimelstob”.

The Telegraph understands that at least three other alleged incidents are likely to be raised at the court hearing.

The alleged incidents include:

  • Gimelstob pursued Kris Thabit, another friend of his estranged wife Cary, out of a Santa Monica restaurant in November 2016 and began an altercation which allegedly left Thabit with a cut lip.
  • Gimelstob allegedly had to be pulled back by a group of players, officials and spectators after trying to choke an opponent at a paddle tennis tournament in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, a year ago.
  • His estranged wife Cary filed a restraining order against Gimelstob in February 2016 in which she accused him of assaulting her, stealing her mobile phone on two occasions, and broke into her house regularly.

Gimelstob married Cary Sinnott, a psychologist from a wealthy Los Angeles family, in 2012 at a glamorous wedding attended by former tennis champions Jim Courier and Mary Joe Fernandez, and tennis executives including the Tennis Channel’s David Egdes and former ATP chief Adam Helfant.

They had a son the following year, but the marriage soon collapsed in acrimony.

According to an application for a domestic restraining order filed by Cary Gimelstob, the earliest alleged instance of domestic abuse was in February 2015. As the court documents claim: “Justin gave me his cell phone to look at. When I discovered something on it that he did not want me to see … he tackled me to the ground and purposefully fell on top of me, pinning me to the floor.”

She claims that on the weekend of Dec 5-7, 2015: “Justin physically assaulted me twice in front of our son … Justin also informed me that he had placed a video recording device in my bedroom and had recordings of me having sex with another man and intended to show them to [their son] … Justin also broke into the house I was living in and threatened to continue breaking into the house I was living in in the future.”

The 22-page document features many other startling claims, including that in December 2015, while Cary Gimelstob was strapping their son into his car-seat, her estranged husband had reversed his car backwards, knocking her over. The application was later withdrawn.

Gimelstob also filed a domestic restraining order application. In it, he states: “For the last seven months I have been living in fear of Cary and her powerful, influential and wealthy family.” He denies ever striking his wife and adds that she was physically aggressive towards him.

Thabit, part owner of the Griffin Club, a country club founded by tennis player Elmer Griffin in 1926, was a friend of Cary before she ­began dating Gimelstob. Thabit states in court papers he reached out to her as a friend when he learnt about the imminent divorce.

According to court documents filed by Thabit as he applied for a temporary restraining order, he experienced two run-ins with Gimelstob at the R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica. On March 25, 2016, Thabit claims Gimelstob was removed from the restaurant by staff after “yelling at me in a hostile threatening manner, accusing me of having flirted with his wife Cary”.

When Thabit saw Gimelstob in the same restaurant eight months later, he claims that he and his companion paid the bill immediately and left. According to Thabit’s statement, “Mr Gimelstob was following close behind … He accused me of running away and being afraid of him. I replied that I was, in fact, trying to avoid him … At some point, as I was retrieving my cell phone from the ground because Mr Gimelstob had knocked it out of my rear pocket, Mr Gimelstob jumped on my back and started hitting me.”

Gimelstob also filed an application for a temporary restraining order after this confrontation. “I got close to the front door [of R+D Kitchen],” he wrote on the form. “Kris pushed me aggressively three times. The momentum of the push sent me outside.”

Thabit’s legal team paid a private investigator to source video footage of the incident, which appeared to indicate that Gimelstob was the ­aggressor. Thabit and Gimelstob eventually withdrew their applications for restraining orders and agreed to stay away from each other.

On the weekend of Oct 7-8, 2017, Gimelstob played in a paddle tennis tournament alongside Danilo Kawasaki – a vice-president at a wealth-management firm – in Venice Beach. During a match against Gabriel Joseph and his partner, an alleged altercation developed over a line call of “out” Gimelstob made.

“I asked my partner if the ball was in,” Joseph told The Telegraph. “Justin overheard, he comes to the net and asks me, ‘Oh, did you think that was in?’ I said, ‘To be honest, I think it was in.’ He said, ‘Oh well if you think I need to cheat to beat you, you’re stupid.’ As I walked back he said, ‘If you start something I am going to f---ing finish you with my left arm, I will hit you’. And at the next changeover, I was wiping my face on a towel when he called me a faggot and said ‘That towel suits your feminine quality’.

“They were still winning easily,” Joseph added. “They were up 5-2, 40-0, and Justin double-faults. I say, ‘Nice serve’, so he walks around the net, he shoves me, then he tries to grab my partner by the throat.

“We are both maybe 5ft 8in tall, 140lb, so we are not big guys [The ATP website lists Gimelstob at 6ft 5in and 195lb]. “He grabs my partner with his left arm, and tries to swing his paddle [a shorter tennis racket] but everybody ran on the court and hauled him away before anyone got hurt.”

Julio Rivera, another player who was spectating, said: “They gather around the centre of the court and Gimelstob is like, ‘That’s a pretty haircut, nice outfit, did your boyfriend buy you that, faggot?’ Then towards the end of the match he came around the net and tried to grab Drew by the throat. He missed and gave him the elbow. It was scary, completely surreal. A melee broke loose, and he was neutralised.”

According to a third witness, the paddle-tennis player Scott Crandall: “Justin made multiple comments about Gabe’s outfit, suggesting that ‘his boyfriend’ got it for him. The bickering continued to where Justin walked over, and pushed Gabe out of the way and then went at Drew and put his hand on Drew’s neck. As soon as that happened, people from outside the court ran onto the court.”

Gimelstob’s lawyer, Shawn Holley, was asked to comment on this story in an email sent at 7.52am, Los Angeles time, and invited to ­respond by 11am with a final deadline of three hours later. In her ­response, Holley said: “I received The Daily Telegraph’s request for a response to this article this morning when I was on my way to court. When I got out of court, I spoke with Mr Briggs who advised me that his deadline for the article was in less than two hours and that I would need to respond before then.

“I advised Mr. Briggs that I had strong evidence to refute each of the claims in his article, but needed until tomorrow to provide it to him, as I had been in court all morning and had just returned to my office. He refused to grant us the ­requested time.”

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Telegraph.co.uk

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport