Pitkin County judge accepts internet star Cameron Dallas’s ‘lenient’ deal for Aspen assault
A District Court judge looked askance Friday at a particularly forgiving plea deal the District Attorney’s Office offered social media actor and singer Cameron Dallas, who was charged with felony assault.
“The disposition in this case gives the court pause because it is, frankly, lenient,” District Judge Chris Seldin said. “This case has been pled down considerably.”
Seldin, however, did accept the deal, which allowed Dallas, 25, of Whittier, California, to plead guilty to disorderly conduct, a lower-level misdemeanor, though he was initially charged with felony second-degree assault causing serious bodily injury stemming from a Dec. 29 altercation at an Aspen hotel.
Dallas was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation and 20 hours of community service, which he may be able to do in the Los Angeles area where he lives.
He declined to speak in court, though he alluded to his newfound sobriety in a brief comment afterward.
“Fighting’s not worth it,” Dallas said. “Stay sober.”
Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham told Seldin the 35-year-old victim in the case — who suffered a broken nose and jaw in the altercation with Dallas — was on board with the plea.
“The victim lives out of state and wants to put these events behind him,” Nottingham said. “He would prefer that the events of that night not be brought up in a public setting. He did not want to go to trial.”
Nottingham said he agreed with the victim.
“It wouldn’t behoove him to go through a trial in this case,” he said. “So I made the offer largely to comply with the victim’s wishes.”
Dallas and the victim also came to a confidential monetary settlement recently, said Ryan Kalamaya, an Aspen attorney who represents the victim. Kalamaya and Pat Mika, a Colorado Springs-based attorney for Dallas, declined to comment further on the settlement.
Mika told the judge Friday that Dallas had legitimate defenses in the case, but wanted to avoid the expense and time of a trial. He later said the plea was the best way to resolve the situation.
“There are two sides to the story and we can fight it out in a courtroom and create more acrimony,” Mika said. “And there are ways to resolve (the situation) that includes the alleged victim’s needs and (Dallas’) needs in the case.”
Dallas is an actor and singer with millions of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, and starred in one season of a Netflix reality series called “Chasing Cameron.”
He was visiting Aspen with friends when the assault occurred, and spent the night of Dec. 28 at the Bootsy Bellows nightclub, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in December in Pitkin County District Court. The victim met the group of friends at the nightclub, where an 18-year-old member of the group invited him back to the Hyatt Grand Aspen where they were staying in the early morning hours of Dec. 29.
That 18-year-old, however, was arrested by Aspen police for trespassing soon after arriving at the Hyatt. A security guard mistakenly let him and another man into a room that wasn’t theirs and they jumped up and down on beds occupied by two sleeping women they didn’t know, according to the affidavit.
The victim then asked Dallas and his 19-year-old friend if he could come up to their room and charge his phone. Once in the room, Dallas left to find out more about his friend’s trespassing arrest. When he returned 30 minutes later, his friend told him the then-34-year-old man hit on him, which freaked him out, the affidavit states.
Dallas told the man to leave and he refused several times. Dallas then lost his temper, according to the court document.
Mika said Friday that the altercation was not motivated by homophobia on Dallas’ part.
“There’s no bias or prejudice that Mr. Dallas has toward any minority-represented class,” he said. “I know he looks on the experience as a learning experience and an opportunity to grow.”
Dallas announced via video posted on social media Aug. 23 that he’d been in rehab and was “getting help dealing with addiction, anxiety, depression and a bunch of other things, family trauma,” according to the post.
On Friday during his plea hearing, Seldin asked Dallas if he was suffering from any mental illness.
“I’m in rehab and stuff, so addiction is a mental illness,” he said.
Dallas clarified that he was sober and of sound mind and understood what was happening. Mika said Dallas has been sober for 140 days, a process he undertook voluntarily.
“Mr. Dallas has taken it on his own to address an alcohol issue,” he said. “He’s learned a lot about himself and the problems alcohol created for his life.”
Mika noted that alcohol played a role in both Dallas’ behavior and that of the victim the night of the altercation.
Seldin said he hesitated over the plea because it’s more lenient than most other pleas where the original charge is felony assault with bodily injury.
“Even when there’s mitigating circumstances, any assault that results in bodily injury is serious to the court,” the judge said. “I would normally impose jail even when it’s pled to a misdemeanor assault charge.”
However, Seldin said he accepted the plea in deference to the DA’s management of the docket, the fact that the victim didn’t want to pursue the case and the defense’s trial argument that the victim may have been legally an intruder in Dallas’ hotel room.
It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.