Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Monday, August 11, 2014
Newtown man held on ear-biting, other assault charges
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The first time he met James W. Worthington was the night in March that Worthington bit off most of his right ear, a 28-year-old man testified in district court in Newtown on Wednesday.
Anthony McGeehan said that he was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at the Green Parrot Irish Pub on North Sycamore Street in Newtown Township with some friends when he encountered Worthington in the parking lot as he was leaving the bar with two friends.
James Worthington (Right)
The two men ended up in an argument that turned physical and ended with Worthington biting him twice, resulting in the disfiguring ear injury, McGeehan testified during the first of two preliminary hearings involving assault charges against the 24-year-old Newtown man.
Worthington is charged in the March 18 ear-biting incident, as well as a Feb. 28 assault on his then-girlfriend. He is also awaiting trial in Bucks County Court stemming from an April 2013 arrest on charges of possession of a controlled substance — anabolic steroids, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to court records.
“The charges are serious, I’m not trying to depreciate that,” his attorney, Louis Busico, said following the hearing. “This is only a preliminary hearing — it’s Round 1 — and Mr. Worthington looks forward to clearing his name at trial.”
On the witness stand, McGeehan testified that he never spoke to him before their parking lot confrontation. Newtown Township police allege that Worthington became enraged after McGeehan told a friend, who had been talking with Worthington, that it was time to leave.
McGeehan testified that he and Worthington got into a “heated argument” after McGeehan said something to one of his friends who was talking to Worthington. But he could not recall anything else about the argument.
At some point the men became “wrapped up” in each other and ended up on the ground. Worthington straddled him and a second unidentified person held him on the ground by the shoulder, he testified. Unable to get up, McGeehan said he covered his face because he thought Worthington was going to punch him.
“I went to protect my face,” he said.
While his hands were covering his face, he alleges that Worthington bit his neck, which court documents say resulted in an abrasion with an imprint of Worthington’s front teeth; the second bite led to what was described as “an auricular amputation” of the outer ear. Paramedics found the missing chunk of ear in the parking lot.
Worthington was pulled off the man and then ran away after someone said they called 911, according to police.
“Before this defendant ripped your ear off with his teeth, did you strike him?” Bucks County prosecutor Robert James asked.
“No,’’ McGeehan replied.
McGeehan also testified that doctors had to remove part of his stomach tissue to save the remaining cartilage in the damaged ear.
The day after Newtown Township police filed charges in the Green Parrot incident, Worthington entered Passages Ventura, a California substance abuse center where he underwent treatment for more than a month for “mental health and substance abuse issues,” according to documents filed with the district court.
Weeks before the alleged ear-biting incident, Worthington’s one-time girlfriend testified that he shoved her, slammed her head onto the ground, kicked and choked her.'
James W. Worthington
The woman testified that she and Worthington planned to spend the evening alone at his mother’s Newtown home. During early morning hours, things turned violent when Worthington allegedly saw text messages where she implied she was going to end their relationship.
She testified that an argument turned physical after Worthington shoved her to the ground, tried to throw her cellphone out the bedroom window and threw her belongings around the room. She managed to get the phone back, and started to pack her belongings to leave, she said.
Before leaving, she testified, she went outside to the backyard deck where she found Worthington smoking a cigarette. Under cross examination, the woman testified that she approached Worthington threatening to leave, but that she didn’t want to go.
“I still wanted to make it OK,” she testified. “I basically wanted to keep him as calm as possible.”
But Worthington grabbed her overnight bag and started throwing her personal items. A curling iron landed on the neighbor’s roof, she said. A friend found her makeup bag in a nearby bush two months later.
At one point, Worthington threw her across the deck and slammed her head twice on the ground, kicked her in the ribs and wrapped his arm around her neck and choked her until she passed out, she testified.
“I didn’t fight back at all. I just wanted it to end,” she said.
When she tried to leave the home a second time, she testified that Worthington took a golf club and threatened to smash her car window. She also testified that Worthington threatened to send intimate pictures and videos of her to students at the high school where she is a teacher.
After the second confrontation the woman testified she “gave up” trying to leave and went back upstairs to sleep. On cross examination, she acknowledged she didn’t call or text anyone after the allegedly physical confrontation; she also waited seven hours before calling police to report the incident.
Following testimony in both cases, District Judge Donald Nasshorn held Worthington for trial on all charges including aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person in the Green Parrot case and unlawful restraint, simple assault and harassment in the Feb. 28 case, but he dismissed a terroristic threats charge.
Worthington remains free after posting 10 percent of $50,000 bail in each of his criminal cases; initially he was free on unsecured bail in both cases, but the orders were changed in late June, according to online court records.