Aide says Patriot bullied him
Attorney talks to media about scalding incident
ROCKLAND -- Mark Paul and his attorney say he was scalded with microwave-heated water by Patriots offensive lineman Kenyatta Jones in an episode of the "frat house" bullying Paul says he has experienced since moving in with Jones eight months ago to work as his personal manager.
In a move panned by Jones's lawyer, Paul and his lawyer, Alec Sohmer of Brockton, took their case to the news media yesterday, holding a press conference here at the Radisson Hotel during which Sohmer said they were considering a civil suit. Sohmer also later released a professional photo taken yesterday of second- and third-degree burns on Paul's back.
Attorney Joseph P. Cataldo, who represented Jones at his Wednesday arraignment in Wrentham District Court on several criminal charges in the case, credited Sohmer's actions with turning the incident into a "circus."
"If he's doing all this in the hopes of getting an advantage in a civil suit, we should just sit down and talk and not do this through the media," Cataldo said. "I'm happy to resolve civil or criminal cases any time, but you don't do it through the media."
Sohmer, who said he had been contacted by Cataldo for reasons undisclosed, said: "We're not talking about a settlement yet." He said the goal of the news conference was to satisfy numerous media requests to interview Paul and was "an effort to ensure his privacy," handling all questions at once.
Paul, 33, who is originally from Springfield and met Jones a year ago through the player's family, read a statement in which he described sitting on a toilet around 9:30 p.m. Monday in a Walpole house he shared with Jones and former Patriot player J. R. Redmond. He heard Jones heating up what turned out to be a cup of water in a microwave.
"Kenyatta then opened the bathroom door and twice threw water on me," Paul said. "The first, about half the cup, hit me in the face and shoulder. I screamed and turned away in pain. He then threw the rest at me, hitting me on the back, all the time laughing."
Paul said he screamed again and that Jones laughed at the doorway.
"I took my shirt off, and he said that I would be all right," Paul continued. "I heard the doorbell ring, and he went to answer and then left the house, leaving me alone."
After he was burned, Paul said he took a cold shower and drove to a store to buy burn spray. A clerk told him that his wounds required medical treatment, and he went home to call an ambulance.
Paul was transported to Caritas Norwood Hospital, where he contacted Sohmer, with whom he had a previous relationship he declined to characterize. Police weren't notified by Paul until Tuesday; Sohmer said he thought Paul needed a police escort to pick up his belongings. A criminal investigation ensued, Sohmer said.
"If you want to do a prank, use cold water," Sohmer said. "You don't use scalding water. It's hard to think how a prank like this could go through somebody's mind, how someone could think this would be funny in any way." Sohmer said Paul, who earned a living allowance to stay at the house and performed tasks for Jones and Redmond, had been subjected to bullying, but nothing that went as far as Monday's incident. He declined to specify what type of bullying had occurred, but said Redmond was not involved.
Paul, who appeared to stand about 6 feet and weigh around 300 pounds, walked gingerly into the hotel yesterday and did not take questions. Burns were visible on his forehead, and Sohmer said three-fourths of his back sustained second- and third-degree burns.
Sohmer had been asked to allow photographs of the burns, but he said a doctor had advised against the removal of bandages. Later in the day, he said professional pictures were taken, and he released one to the Globe.
Jones, who makes $1.667 million with the Patriots, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with intent to maim, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and mayhem, a charge carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison.
While refusing to comment on the scalding, Jones said yesterday that he had spoken to "everyone I need to speak to" with the Patriots and that he was certain that he would not be released because of the incident.Jones, a third-year right tackle who underwent surgery on both his knees in the off-season, was to have begun practicing Wednesday but now remains listed as physically unable to perform.David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney's office, would not comment on how prosecutors would handle the case if the two parties come to a civil settlement that might preclude Paul from cooperating.
Meanwhile, Sohmer said Paul was now essentially homeless and in need of someone to take care of what would be large medical bills. Reconstructive surgery is likely, Sohmer said, and he was working to get his client treated at Boston Shriners Hospital."This was completely unprovoked," Paul said. "I don't understand why he did this to me. . . . He was like a brother to me. Kenyatta knows my entire family. We're all devastated."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.