Justin Bieber charged with assault in Toronto
TORONTO - Justin Bieber pushed his way through a teeming crowd of journalists and deliriously screaming fans Wednesday night as the global pop phenom surrendered to face a charge of assault.
The blinding camera flashes and shouts of "Justin I love you!" outside a downtown Toronto police station were similar to the scene that greeted the young star in Miami last week, where he faces charges in an alleged drag racing incident.
Police allege that Bieber and five other people were picked up by a limousine from a Toronto nightclub in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, and that there was an altercation en route to a hotel.
During the altercation one of the passengers hit the limo driver, police allege. Bieber was charged with one count of assault.
The Stratford, Ont., native, wearing a black baseball cap and a jacket with the collar hiked up around his face, received a ceremonious welcome to face a serious charge.
As he was ushered through the crush by police officers and a body guard, dozens of young women screamed his name and jostled for a photo of the star.
"I saw the back of him!" Christina Notario, 19, screamed.
"I've been a fan of him since he was little, and like, I still love him no matter what, like, I don't know. I just love him so much."
The crowd outside the station appeared to grow despite the sub-zero temperatures as the singer spent nearly two hours with officers and members of his entourage.
Fans who lingered for another glance of the 19-year-old star were disappointed though, as Bieber quietly slipped out a back exit.
He is scheduled to appear in court in Toronto on March 10, but his Canadian lawyer did not say if Bieber would have to appear in person on that date.
Lawyer Seth Weinstein released a statement saying he expects the charge will be prosecuted summarily, which is akin to a misdemeanour in the U.S.
"Our position is that Mr. Bieber is innocent," Weinstein said in the brief statement.
Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, tweeted a request Wednesday night for the public to "be kind and hope for the best in people" and "not assume the worst."
Alessia Martino, 17, was one of the fans who braved the cold in Toronto to support the troubled star.
"My goal before going to university is to meet Justin," she said while waiting outside the police station with her mom.
"I think he should move back to Toronto because he wouldn't get any bad press because we all love him here."
Bieber's bad press includes charges in Florida of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving with an expired licence.
Court records show that Bieber's lawyer filed a written not-guilty plea in Miami, where authorities said he failed a field sobriety test last week and was driving under the influence at nearly twice the speed limit.
Earlier this month detectives searched Bieber's California home looking for surveillance footage that might serve as evidence that the singer was involved in an egg-tossing vandalism case that caused thousands of dollars in damage to a neighbour's home.
The investigation garnered more attention than his album release, which happened just days earlier.
Last year represented a litany of lows for the singer, from clashing with a paparazzo to fainting at a show to being photographed smoking marijuana.
Some of his troubles have reached the bizarre: German authorities charged him thousands of dollars after he abandoned a pet monkey that they seized from him for failing to have proper vaccination papers; the singer had to apologize to Bill Clinton after cursing the former president and spraying his photo with cleaning fluid in a New York City restaurant kitchen.
In Toronto, Jasmin Husain, 19, described herself as a Bieber fan, but said her devotion was waning.
"I would say that my like, fan dedication has like gone down a bit over the years just because of his behaviour, but when he did first come out like in 10th Grade — that was four years ago — I was like crazy," she said outside the police station.
"I loved him. He was the first concert I ever went to, so, (he's) very close to my heart."
— with files from The Associated Press.