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Updated December 19th, 2023 at 16:36 IST

It's controversial/ Jonathan Majors, Marvel actor, found guilty of assaulting and harassing ex-girlfriend

The charges stemmed from a dispute between the actor and his ex-girlfriend that began in the backseat of a chauffeured car.

Jonathan Majors
Jonathan Majors | File photo | Image:AP
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Jonathan Majors was convicted on Monday of assaulting his former girlfriend after a two-week trial that the actor hoped would salvage his damaged reputation and restore his status as an emerging Hollywood star. A Manhattan jury found the actor guilty of assault and harassment. He was also acquitted of a different assault charge and of aggravated harassment.

Jonathan Majors will be sentenced on February 2024

Jonathan Majors, who was asked to stand and face the jurors as the verdict was read, showed no immediate reaction, looking slightly downward. His sentencing was set for February 6, 2024. He faces the possibility of up to a year in jail for the assault conviction, though probation or other non-jail sentences also are possible. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that the trial “illustrated a cycle of psychological and emotional abuse, and escalating patterns of coercion".

What happened at the trial?

Majors arrived in the courtroom each morning carrying a gold-leaf Bible, offering hugs to his family members and his current girlfriend, actress Meagan Good, before taking his seat. Expressionless for much of the testimony, he wiped away tears as his attorney, Priya Chaudhry, urged jurors to “end this nightmare for Jonathan Majors”.

But as Majors sought vindication from the jury, the trial also brought forth new evidence about his troubled relationship with Jabbari, whom he met on the set of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” two years ago.

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Accusing Majors of a “cruel and manipulative pattern” of abuse, prosecutors shared text messages that showed the actor begging Jabbari not to seek hospital treatment for an earlier head injury. One message warned “it could lead to an investigation even if you do lie and they suspect something”.

(File photo | Image: AP)

They also played audio of Majors declaring himself a “great man”, then questioning whether Jabbari could meet the high standards set by the spouses of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. Majors' attorneys countered that Jabbari had surreptitiously recorded her boyfriend as part of her plot to “destroy” his career. Over four days of tearful testimony, Jabbari said Majors was excessively controlling and prone to fits of explosive rage that left her afraid “physically quite a lot”.

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She broke down on the witness stand as a jury watched security footage from the aftermath of the backseat confrontation, which prosecutors said showed Majors “manhandling” her and shoving her back in the car “as if she was a doll”. Majors did not take the stand. But Chaudhry said her client was the victim of “white lies, big lies, and pretty little lies” invented by Jabbari to exact revenge on an unfaithful partner.

(File photo | Image: AP)

The attorney cited security footage, taken immediately after the shove, that showed Majors sprinting away from his girlfriend as she chased him through the night. Jabbari then followed a group of strangers she'd met on the street to a dance club, where she ordered drinks for the group and did not appear to be favouring her injured hand. “She was revenge-partying and charging Champagne to the man she was angry with and treating these strangers to fancy Champagne she bought with Jonathan's credit card,” Chaudhry alleged.

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The next morning, after finding Jabbari unconscious in the closet of their Manhattan penthouse, Majors called police. He was arrested at the scene, while Jabbari was transported to a hospital to receive treatment for the injuries to her ear and hand. “He called 911 out of concern for her, and his fear of what happens when a Black man in America came true,” Chaudhry said, accusing police and prosecutors of failing to take seriously Majors' allegations that he was bloodied and scratched during the dispute.

In her closing arguments, prosecutor Kelli Galaway said Majors was following a well-worn playbook used by abusers to reverse the narrative by casting their victims as attackers. “This is not a revenge plot to ruin the defendant's life or his career,” Galaway said. “You were asked why you are here? Because domestic violence is serious.”

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What do we know about the incident?

The charges stemmed from a dispute between the Creed III actor and his girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, that began in the backseat of a chauffeured car and spilled into the streets of Manhattan one night last March.

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Jabbari, a 30-year-old British dancer, accused Majors of an attack inside the vehicle that left her in “excruciating” pain. She said he struck her in the head with his open hand, twisted her arm behind her back and squeezed her middle finger until it fractured.

(File photo | Image: AP)

Majors' lawyers said she was the aggressor, alleging that she flew into a jealous rage after reading a text message on his phone sent by another woman. They said Jabbari had spread a “fantasy” to take down the actor, who was only trying to regain his phone and get away safely.

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The verdict dealt a major blow to Majors, who was on the verge of Hollywood stardom until his arrest in March sent his career into a tailspin.

Jonathan Major's uncertain future in the Marvels

Once slated to lead the next phase of the Marvel universe as the supervillain Kang the Conqueror, Majors faced an uncertain future with the lucrative franchise after the abuse charges. The actor, who attended the Yale School of Drama, has lost other parts and endorsement deals and seen his critically-acclaimed drama, Magazine Dreams, pulled from its scheduled release earlier this month.
 

(Inputs from AP)

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Published December 19th, 2023 at 08:28 IST

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