Actor Nicholas Brendon struck a plea deal with prosecutors Friday, staving off a possible four-year jail sentence for the former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actor who attacked his girlfriend at a Palm Springs hotel nearly three years ago.
As part the deal, Brendon will serve three years probation and complete a 52-week domestic violence course, along with 20 hours of community service.
Brendon’s original felony charge of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse was reduced to misdemeanor domestic battery.
Forest M. Wilkerson, Brendon’s attorney, said her client opted to take the deal because he suffers from PTSD and did not want to sit through a trial.
The 48-year-old actor, who has spoken publicly about his battles with depression, alcoholism and substance abuse, is accused of grabbing and “violently” pulling his girlfriend by the hair at the bar inside the Saguaro Hotel in downtown Palm Springs on Oct. 11, 2017.
Brendon, who is also known for his work on “Criminal Minds,” was set to appear for his preliminary hearing Friday in which witnesses for the prosecution had assembled to testify, including police officers and the victim, who flew in from New York for the occasion, according to people she was with.
The victim, identified only as “Jane Doe” in court documents, opted to address the court after Brendon’s plea deal was accepted by Superior Court Judge Richard Oberholzer, where she held back tears as she recounted a relationship allegedly riddled with physical and emotional abuse.
“When somebody holds a knife to your throat, it changes you as a person, and it changes you forever” she said. “I can never erase the pictures in my mind of being strangled and thrown across the room, or being covered in bruises, bite marks and scratches, all because I tried to care for someone.”
Wilkerson said hair-pulling was a consensual activity in the pair’s relationship, both inside and outside of the bedroom. She referenced recorded interviews with the victim, who said hair-pulling is “something we do in our relationship. We have rough sex, there’s nothing wrong with it,” according to Wilkerson.
Wilkerson also said the victim initially refused to press charges against Brendon, and did so only after he broke up with her.
Brendon is barred from coming into contact with the victim for the next three years.
According to court documents, the attack began when the woman tried to leave the hotel’s bar after drinking two beers while Brendon wanted shots of tequila.
The victim told police she “knows how he gets,” referring to Brendon, when he drinks tequila, “so she decided to leave the lobby bar and go to their room,” according to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant prepared by Detective Mario Kasal. The victim added that “when she got up to leave the lobby bar area, Brendon grabbed her by the hair.”
The hotel’s front desk supervisor told investigators that although Doe did not fall to the ground when her hair was pulled, “her head was completely turned on its side as a result of Brendon pulling her hair,” according to the document.
The pair then left the bar and went outside through a glass door, where the desk supervisor told police she saw Brendon repeat the action again and said she could hear the woman scream “Quit pulling my hair!” before being pushed to the ground.
Later in the day, while officers were interviewing the victim, she was escorted to the bathroom by the same supervisor, who said she saw Doe run her hands through her hair and a substantial amount of Doe’s hair fell off her head and onto the floor, according to the declaration, which alleges the details provided by the hotel employee were confirmed by hotel surveillance footage.
Police were alerted to the suspected altercation by hotel employees, and Brendon was arrested at the scene on suspicion of felony domestic violence and violating active protective orders.
The orders, which were issued in two other states, allowed the actor to be near the woman, but prohibited him from harassing, threatening, injuring or assaulting her.
Brendon made bail following his arrest, but was not charged until April 30, 2019.
He has had a series of brushes with the law beginning in 2004, including arrests for grand theft, resisting arrest, battery against a peace officer and vandalism in L.A., Boise, Idaho, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
He pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in upstate New York after a 2015 arrest for allegedly grabbing his girlfriend by the throat.
Brendon portrayed Xander Harris on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” during the entirety of its seven-season run, which ended in 2003, and as Kevin Lynch on “Criminal Minds” from 2007 to 2014.
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