After pleading guilty to a drunken-driving charge, 1970s teen heartthrob David Cassidy walked out of Schodack Town Court on Wednesday evening with a smile and a thumbs-up.
“I’m very satisfied, and I’m somebody who takes responsibility,” he said to a media throng. “I really was in denial for many years about my alcoholism.”
In a speech outside the courthouse, the one-time star of the television series "The Partridge Family" both accepted responsibility for driving drunk last summer and insisted he had done nothing wrong beyond failing to dim his headlights in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2013, just before Schodack police pulled him over on Columbia Turnpike.
“I didn’t hurt anybody,” Cassidy said. “I didn’t hit another car. I didn’t smash my car. I had my lights on, and that’s why I got pulled over.”
He was charged with driving while intoxicated after tests showed his blood-alcohol content at 0.10 percent. The charge was initially a felony because of a 2011 conviction for driving under the influence in Florida, but it was later reduced to a misdemeanor. In January, he was charged with DWI in Los Angeles and ended up going to a rehabilitation facility for three months for his alcohol troubles, followed by two months of “intensive” outpatient treatment and counseling three times a week.
“It was clear that this is a first offense,” he said, meaning his first offense in New York, “and I didn’t hurt anybody. I didn’t do anything wrong but put my bright lights on. That’s it.”
As part of a plea deal, Cassidy will be required to complete 50 hours of community service and must install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he owns or operates in New York, where he stays most summers, or Florida, where he lives most of the rest of the year.
Against the wishes of his attorney and the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office, Town Justice Bruce Wagner ordered a pre-sentence investigation report be completed before Cassidy’s Nov. 5 sentencing. It is unclear yet whether he will be required to personally appear in court again.
“That we’re going to discuss between now and then,” said Assistant District Attorney Michael Shanley. “I would think most likely, but I’m just not sure. I think normally somebody would have to show up for sentencing, so I think he would.”
Cassidy was initially expected to agree to a plea deal July 30. His lawyer, Lucas Mihuta, had arranged to appear in his place in Town Court to enter the plea, since Cassidy was at his home in Florida. But when the district attorney’s office learned the former teen idol actually happened to be just 40 miles away that day, at Saratoga Race Course, it requested the deal be adjourned so Cassidy could appear personally.
“It is a significant burden for somebody to have to travel here from Florida to appear in a local court,” said Shanley. “It did appear we received some information later that Mr. Cassidy was able to appear in upstate New York for a different reason, so at that point, we decided we’d ask for a personal appearance. If he was going to be available for other reasons, he could be available for this.”
Cassidy, a regular at Saratoga Race Course each summer, described upstate New York on Wednesday as his home away from home. The summer meet concluded Monday.
“I’ve been coming to upstate New York, and I’ve done an immense amount of charity work, as I have all summer, and I love this part of New York,” he said. “It’s been, really, my second home. And I’m just happy that it’s over. Or almost over.”
His alcoholism and drunken-driving charges have hurt his career in recent years, he said.
“People are very hesitant now, especially corporations,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Uh oh, he’s an alcoholic.’ Yeah, I am, but I’m also in recovery and I’m doing really well.”
He thanked his fans Wednesday for their support and even took a picture with a few of them after his court appearance.