Oscar-winning “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black was acquitted Wednesday of assault in a London magistrate court after a judge dismissed the case, first brought against Black in April.
District Judge Louisa Cieciora, who presided over the trial at Westminster Magistrates Court in the U.K., said she could “not properly convict” Black based on the evidence.
The writer, whose latest work “Rustin” came out in theaters last month, pled not guilty to the charges in court in April. He was released on unconditional bail with plans to reappear in court in August.
The charges stem from an encounter between Black and BBC reality show host Teddy Edwardes, in which Black suffered a concussion. He was accused of grabbing and twisting Edwardes’ wrist, causing a drink to spill on her. Black’s husband, Olympic diver Tom Daley, was also in attendance at the Freedom nightclub in London’s Soho, where the altercation occurred.
Edwardes, the host of BBC3’s “The Big Proud Party Agency” responded by punching Black in the head. She received a police caution afterward.
“This is a moment of exoneration – this case has flown in the face of everything I am and I am grateful to the judge for exonerating me,” Black told Variety outside the courtroom.
Cieciora said Edwardes was not “consistent” with her evidence, which ultimately brought the presiding judge to her decision.
“She said in her evidence today she could not remember a wrist grab clearly,” the judge said. “I found that to be an odd statement given she had made public statements on social media and to the police this is what happened.”
In one of her Instagram posts, Edwardes wrote that Black “pretty much unprovoked threw an entire drink over me.”
“I didn’t have a drink to throw back so I did choose violence, it wasn’t that violent, he got a little tap on the back of the head,” she added.
Black wrote of the encounter Sept. 2022: “A month ago I sustained a serious head injury that put me out of commission. Showing little improvement, my doctors ordered me to shut off my brain in hopes of it healing. This has been a challenging, frightening time for a creative type who depends on what’s in his skull to work, care and love.”
A representative for Black previously shared a statement with TheWrap about the situation.
“Mr. Black was surprised and saddened to learn that after the other person involved in this unfortunate incident took responsibility and expressed remorse for a punch to the back of Mr. Black’s head – which left him with a life-altering concussion – a decision was made to now examine the matter of a spilled drink in a court of law,” the statement reads. “Of course Mr Black will respect the process, and in the meantime will continue to focus on being a loving father and husband.”
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