PORTLAND, Maine — Alexander Gray, a prominent concert promoter, pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge Friday, but denied having beaten his ex-girlfriend.
Gray, who had previously pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault, changed his plea on Friday morning, telling a Portland court that he accepted responsibility for an incident that led to his then-girlfriend being briefly hospitalized in March.
A Cumberland County Superior Court judge accepted Gray’s plea as part of deal he reached with state prosecutors that will see his conviction deferred for one year. If he abides by the conditions of the agreement — which include not contacting the woman he attacked, or using drugs or alcohol or possessing any weapons — the conviction could be dismissed.
Gray, who owns Waterfront Concerts, was arrested and charged with domestic violence assault in March after his girlfriend of five years told police he attacked her following an argument at his Portland condominium.
After a night of drinking, Gray, 41, kicked the legs out from underneath his younger girlfriend and then grabbed her by the throat and repeatedly slammed her head onto the hardwood floor, according to a police report.
Gray said in court that he and his ex-girlfriend “fundamentally disagree about everything in the police report, but I do accept responsibility for my role in that matter.”
In an interview Friday afternoon, he specifically denied ever hitting the woman’s head on the floor, choking her or kicking out her feet, saying that she was knocked out after they both fell while struggling over her purse. Gray said he deeply regretted having reached for the bag and that he pleaded guilty and accepted the deferred disposition deal to avoid having the press “pick the bones” of their private lives in a trial.
“I’m 206 pounds and have a gym in my house,” Gray said. “I would be on trial for murder if I did what she said I did.”
But his former girlfriend, whose identity has been withheld by the BDN because she is a domestic violence survivor, told the court on Friday that Gray had gradually turned their relationship into one of “financial control, mental and emotional manipulation and sexual degradation.”
“I have cried every day for seven months, and for months I wished that he hit my head hard enough, one more time, that I wouldn’t wake up,” she said, adding that Gray “has continued to try to manipulate me in this legal process as I’m sure he’d hoped to exhaust me.”
As she spoke, Gray stared straight ahead, never glancing over at the woman he used to live with. He later said that he is “very sorry for what occurred.”
Under the terms of the deferred disposition agreement, Gray must undergo a substance abuse evaluation within three months, submit to drug and alcohol testing, make a $500 donation to a victim’s compensation fund, and give his ex-girlfriend her laptop back within 60 days, among other things.
Failure to meet the conditions of the agreement could result in a conviction and sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000 for Gray.
In September, Bangor renewed a 10-year contract with Waterfront Concerts that gives the city a larger cut of ticket sales at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion in Bangor. Gray’s guilty plea will not affect this contract, Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow said.
“We have a lot of contracts,” she said. “We treat [Gray] like any other contractor. [The guilty plea] really isn’t ours to comment on. It doesn’t have anything to do with us.”
In May, Portland declined to sign a 10-year contract with Waterfront Concerts for shows at the Maine State Pier, according to the Portland Press Herald. At the time City Manager Jon Jennings said the decision had nothing to do with Gray’s then-pending charge. A city spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Gray also recently purchased a building in Old Town, where he lives, which he intends to renovate and turn it into a music venue that will host about 50 shows a year.
Gray told the Bangor Daily News that his plea agreement is separate from his role as the head of the company and should not affect the hundreds of people it employs seasonally. Gray’s lawyer, Gerard Conley Jr., called him “an economic engine in the Bangor and Portland economies” at the hearing
A lawyer for Gray’s former girlfriend, Tim Zerillo, said his client is evaluating her legal options and criticized Gray’s denials as an effort to “walk back his own culpability” after pleading guilty. Gray said he is expecting a civil suit.
— BDN writer Alex Acquisto contributed to this report.
Follow Jake Bleiberg @JZBleiberg.
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