Reality TV star and ex-boyband member Nick Lachey, who currently hosts Love is Blind, has been ordered to attend anger management and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings after he accosted a female photographer.
A video of Lachey showed the encounter with veteran paparazzi photographer Jody Santos as he attempts to grab her and swears at her as she sits in her car in Beverly Hills.
Lachey was charged with assault and battery under California Penal Code 242 but he was offered a “pre-filing diversion” allowing him to keep a clean criminal record so long as he attends anger management and AA meetings.
“In all my years of photographing celebrities, no one has ever tried to hit me,” Santos tells the Daily Mail. “I am just relieved that I rolled up my window as fast as I did, otherwise he would have knocked me out. No doubt about it.”
Santos filed a police report after the incident that occurred on March 27 last year as Lachey was leaving dinner with his wife and Love is Blind co-host Vanessa.
“I kept calling the DA’s office and told them that I thought he was getting preferential treatment,” says Santos. “So finally they called me back and said, ‘No he’s not getting preferential treatment’ and explained that they have a program with the courts where they don’t let misdemeanors just walk, they have to attend anger management classes and AA meetings.”
Santos says that it’s common practice for paparazzi photographers to cruise around Beverly Hills and wait outside upmarket restaurants hoping that a celebrity will leave.
“Nick’s not really on the radar. I just saw him and I figured I would get a shot of a couple coming out of a restaurant,” she tells the Mail.
In the video, Lachey can be heard saying: “Is paparazzi still a thing?” to which Santos replies: “Yes, that’s why I’m here, I’m a photographer.”
The celebrity, who was married to Jessica Simpson for three years and starred with her in Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, took to Twitter to express some remorse the day after the skirmish.
“Last night, after enjoying a great dinner with my wife and our dear friend, the paparazzi harassed us as we walked back to our hotel. I clearly overreacted. I’ve been in this game long enough to know that their antics are sadly part of the deal. Stupid of me. Done.”
However, Santos says that she was not harassing him and didn’t get out of her car and there was only other photographer there.
“There were only two of us, two photographers and we were just doing our job. I was basically giving Nick free publicity with a possible story about a celebrity couple going out for dinner,” she tells the Mail.
“I want Nick to know that it’s not okay to come after a photographer, let alone a female one and use foul, sexist language.
“He needs to take accountability for his actions. It’s one thing to be violent towards a woman and call her foul names, and it’s another when you blame the other person and lie about what really happened. He twisted the truth and put the blame on me.”
“Nick won’t be too happy when he gets snapped going to anger management classes,” adds Santos. “This all could have been avoided if Nick had just taken responsibility for his behavior. He is not above the law and as a father and a public figure, the least he can do is be a decent human being.”