Wed, 09 Mar 2005


NY rapper Ja Rule apologizes to Toronto

TORONTO: Rapper Ja Rule apologized to the city of Toronto on Monday after admitting that he punched a man at a downtown nightclub last year where a crowd shouted derogatory slurs at him.

"I'm just sorry about my actions," the performer, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, said as he stood on the courthouse steps with his lawyer, wife and bodyguards.

Atkins received a US$1,200) fine after pleading guilty to assault for the incident that took place last June at the La Rouge Nightclub.

The 29-year-old rapper, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and three children, initially faced the more severe charge of assault causing bodily harm, which could have resulted in jail time.

There is still a possibility that the victim will file a civil suit.

Atkins, who had been in Toronto filming the movie Assault on Precinct 13, was seated in the VIP section of the club on the night of the incident.

He said he was provoked by a crowd that had formed near him, shouting "derogatory" comments about his public feud with rapper 50 Cent, said prosecutor Mary Humphrey, reading from an agreed statement of facts.

As Atkins was leaving, he punched someone standing nearby, the court heard.

The victim ended up with a black eye and some cuts to the eyelid.

The courtroom was packed with teenagers eager to see Atkins, who was dressed formally in a black shirt and dress pants. A few managed to get autographs before the trial started. --AP