Originally created 04/02/02

Strawberry to remain in jail while new attorney reviews case



TAMPA, Fla. -- Darryl Strawberry has to remain in jail until a judge decides his fate later this month and while his new lawyer - a local civil rights activist and former cocaine addict - reviews his case.

Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Florence Foster on Monday denied bail for the former New York Yankee while he awaits an April 18 court date on allegations he broke rules at the residential drug treatment center where he was serving two years of house arrest.

Foster commended Strawberry, 40, for being free of drugs for nearly a year. She could send Strawberry to prison for as long as 18 months for violating his probation.

Prosecutors are seeking prison time.

Darryl Rouson, the president of the St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP who began representing Strawberry last week, said he was hoping to negotiate with prosecutors a resolution to the long-running case that will allow Strawberry to continue his treatment.

April 8 will mark one year of sobriety for the former slugger, a milestone he had not been able to reach in 15 years of substance abuse, Rouson said Monday.

Strawberry was one week from entering a new phase in his treatment in which he would have been granted greater privileges, including occasional day trips away from the rural treatment center.

"He is happy about where he is going in his sober life," Rouson said. "This is a bump in the road."

Strawberry has also struggled with colon cancer and depression. Rouson said the cancer is in remission.

Rouson also has gone through years of substance abuse treatment and, coincidentally, had the same counselor as Strawberry did at one South Florida treatment center. Rouson would not elaborate on his past substance abuse. He has used his position with the NAACP to encourage anti-drug activism.

Strawberry was kicked out of the Phoenix House drug treatment program near Ocala after counselors said he broke many rules at the program, including having sex with another resident, smoking and being uncooperative and disrespectful.

He had been sent there following a felony conviction from a 1999 drug possession and solicitation of prostitution arrest. Strawberry was originally placed on probation, but violated it five times.

Rouson said Strawberry will admit to some of the new allegations, but not all of them. He did specify which rules Strawberry acknowledges breaking.

Strawberry's wife Charisse attended the court session, but declined to comment. Rouson said she is continuing to stand by her husband despite his infidelity; the couple have three young children.

"She's a loving wife and she's a supportive mother who is interested in his growth," Rouson said. "She like others get hurt by the bumps in the journey."

New York Yankee drug counselor Ron Dock, who has stood by Strawberry through the numerous violations, said Monday that Strawberry remains determined to fighting his addiction. He said Strawberry is very proud of marking a year without drug use.

"He wants to get on the other side of this," Dock said.

Dock said it's normal for recovering addicts to break rules as they begin "acting out" in other ways which don't include drug use.

"They literally don't know how to act," Dock said.