Chris Andersen Clears Criminal Charges After Falling Victim to 'Catfish' Scheme
Despite winning the NBA championship with the Miami Heat last June, it has been a tumultuous, defamation-filled year for Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
All of that seems to be over with now, though, as the colorful center has reportedly been able to finally clear his name.
The Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman and ESPN's Brian Windhorst provide some of the details:
Chris Andersen found to have been victim of impersonator in "child pornography, personation, extortion" case in Colo., involved in no crime.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 18, 2013
Heat's Chris Andersen cleared of charges after triangular catfishing scheme lawyer calls "Manti Te'o on steroids" is uncovered. Story coming— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) September 18, 2013
"Manti Te'o on steroids" is quite the description when you consider the extent of last year's bizarre scandal surrounding the former Notre Dame star linebacker, but Andersen's story is certainly unusual.
Andersen had his home searched in May of 2012 as part of an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children unit. The unit investigates "child porn, Internet luring, child predators and child pornography," according to The Denver Post's Jessica Fender.
Andersen was waived by the Denver Nuggets and had his name officially sullied. However, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim, Andersen was "duped."
Wertheim reports that when he was with the Nuggets, Andersen engaged in a sexual relationship with a woman from California who "allegedly misrepresented her age to Andersen." She was still not underage in Colorado, "where the statutory age of consent is 17."
At the same time, a woman from Canada had reportedly stolen Andersen's identity, gaining access to all of his information online. This woman, posing as Andersen, initially constructed the relationship with the woman from California, communicating with her and eventually making explicit demands from her.
The California woman began to feel threatened and alerted authorities—and that's when the investigation into Andersen began.
According to Sgt. Line Karpish, via Wertheim, the 29-year-old woman from Canada is being charged with "possession of child pornography, personation, extortion, transmission of child pornography and utter threats."
To say the least, it has been an agonizingly difficult ordeal for Andersen. Per Wertheim, his lawyer, Mark Bryant, stated:
I can't tell you how much Chris agonized over the label placed on him. This has had an extraordinary effect on Chris ... He appreciates those who reserved judgment. He will continue to do what he's always done in life and that's turn something bad hopefully into something good.
Nevertheless, charges against him are no longer being pursued, and his name is now officially clean once again.
One of the most entertaining players in the NBA, Andersen can now concentrate on continuing his crucial role off the bench for the two-time defending champions.
While Andersen didn't put up flashy numbers last year, he performed well in the postseason and was an important role player for Miami. In 20 playoff games, he averaged 6.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 15.2 minutes per game.
The Heat re-signed him in July, and he'll set out to build on those numbers and help Miami get back to the NBA Finals.
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