Oscar Pistorius, South African Paralympian-turned-pariah, has at least one thing off his plate before facing trial for murder: He has agreed to an out of court settlement in an assault case unrelated to the murder of his former girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.
At a 2009 party at Pistorius’ residence, the Olympic and Paralympic sprinter was fighting with his then-girlfriend and allegedly became so enraged that he punched down a door, part of which fell on a guest, Cassidy Taylor-Memmory. Taylor-Memmory then brought a suit against Pistorius seeking a public apology and legal fees. Pistorius countersued for defamation, seeking 2.2 million Rand (roughly $200,000) in recompense.
Taylor-Memmory claims that after hearing shouting and vulgar language from another room, she approached to find Pistorius screaming at his former lover. “As I approached his large outside doors, Oscar was furiously trying to close them. He started to punch the door and then is when one of the top panels fell and hit my left leg,” she said. “After this happened I went to tell Oscar that he had hurt me to which he replied ‘well, go call your f****** lawyer.’”
Pistorius, colloquially known as the “Blade Runner” in reference to the blade-like prosthetics he uses as a sprinter, was globally regarded as a hero as recently as a year ago. Having been born without fibula in either leg, his legs were amputated below the knees when he was only 11 months old. However, the absence of legs didn’t prevent him from enjoying a brilliant career as an athlete. His fall from favor was abrupt when his girlfriend, model and reality TV star Reeva Steenkamp, was found shot to death in his home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius stands accused of the killing and will stand trial next month.
The terms of the settlement have not been made public, but appear to cover little more than Taylor-Memmory’s legal fees. When asked whether she was merely “chasing money” with the suit, she replied, “All I wanted was an apology from Oscar and the settlement of the legal fees. I have never made a public appearance or even approached the media about it.” Taylor-Memmory further claims that she was intensely harassed for bringing a lawsuit against the man who was at that time still a national hero: “I received hate mail on a daily basis. People who didn’t know me from a bar of soap were calling me the most horrific names. It became so difficult at a stage that I needed a bodyguard when I went out in public due to all the hate rants.”
Pistorius hasn’t apologized to Taylor-Memmory, likely hoping to minimize damage from this suit insofar as it may affect his criminal defense efforts.
Image via Wikimedia Commons