The prosecutor in the simple assault case against Mets closer Jeurys Familia said Friday that he will decide whether to proceed after the victim, Familia’s wife, asked authorities to drop the charge.
Fort Lee prosecutor Arthur Balsamo said in a telephone interview that Familia’s wife, Bianca Rivas, told him during a private meeting last week that she is not concerned for her safety.
“She feels pretty confident about the situation,” Balsamo said. “She told me specifically that she didn’t want to pursue the matter. Ultimately, that’s my decision.”
Rivas’ attorney, Cathy Fleming, who also attended the meeting, said, “I told the court [Rivas] did not want to pursue the matter.”
Balsamo said he will make a decision before Familia’s next court hearing, which is scheduled for Dec. 15.
Municipal Court judge John DeSheplo told Familia during the Nov. 10 hearing that the prosecutor can continue with the case even if the victim decides not to cooperate. Balsamo said the fact that Rivas hired her own attorney, separate from Familia’s attorney, works in her favor because “that’s another trained professional involved and I’m more comfortable it’s a situation where she’s not afraid” for her safety.
Familia’s attorney, Paul Brickfield, declined to comment.
Familia, 27, was arrested after 2 a.m. on Oct. 31. Fort Lee, New Jersey, police alleged in a complaint filed with the municipal court that he caused “bodily injury to another” person, citing a scratch on the person’s chest and a bruise on the right cheek.
The victim’s name was redacted from the court papers and DeSheplo asked media members at the Nov. 10 meeting to not show the victim’s image in court. He also referred to her by her initials instead of her name to protect her identity.
Balsamo identified the victim as Rivas during the telephone interview on Friday and said her identity is not protected by law because the charge against Familia is technically simple assault, not specifically domestic violence.
During the Nov. 10 hearing, after the judge granted Familia’s request that the restraining order against him be removed, he and Rivas left together, walking arm-in-arm to their car.
The maximum penalty for a simple assault charge is six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and two years’ probation, DeSheplo said during the Nov. 10 hearing. Major League Baseball, which could suspend Familia regardless of how his case is decided in court, has said it is investigating the matter.