NEW YORK — Supermodel Naomi Campbell was charged with second-degree assault, a felony, Thursday for allegedly striking her 41-year-old housekeeper in the head with a cell phone for allegedly stealing her favorite pair of jeans.
The victim’s name was not released by the New York City Police Department or by Lenox Hill Hospital, where police said she was treated.
Once the victim reported the alleged attack from the hospital, police officers picked up Campbell at her Park Avenue apartment and took her into custody at the Midtown North police precinct at 11:39 a.m. She was seen smiling as she left the police station in jeans, with her hands handcuffed beneath a white fur poncho and wearing a black “Brasil” baseball cap, perhaps a souvenir from her recent trip there with Quincy Jones for the Vogue Carnival Ball.
Campbell was arraigned at 6:30 Thursday evening and released on her own recognizance. She is due back in Manhattan Criminal Court June 27, and if convicted could face two to seven years in prison according to a spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Of the incident, Campbell’s publicist, Amanda Silverman, would only reference a statement released Thursday. “We believe this is a case of retaliation, because Naomi had fired her housekeeper earlier this morning. We are confident the courts will see it the same way.”
Executives at 1 Model Management, the agency that represents Campbell, did not return phone calls Thursday.
Discovered in Covent Garden at the age of 15, Campbell was the first African-American woman to appear on the covers of Time, as well as French and British Vogue. This was not the first time the model, who has been treated for cocaine addiction in the past, has faced charges or has come to blows with others. In 2000 in Toronto, Campbell pleaded guilty to an assault charge for beating an assistant, but was given an absolute discharge. In 2003, a former assistant sued her for allegedly throwing a telephone at her two years earlier. Campbell came under fire again in 2004, when a former housekeeper accused Campbell of striking her.
In the past, Campbell has taken her fiery flare-ups in stride. When Chip & Pepper designed a “Naomi Hit Me” T-shirt, she was among the people seen wearing one. She also laughed about the send-up when Diane Sawyer asked her about the shirt during an ABC interview.
Reports were circulating Thursday that a pair of Chip & Pepper jeans had something to do with Campbell’s clash with her housekeeper. Regardless of whether there was any truth to that, the company planned to have a batch of the “Naomi Hit Me” T-shirts in its NoHo store Friday.
What appears to be a personal message from the model on her Web site, NaomiCampbell.com, hints at her whirlwind lifestyle. “I can hardly believe it’s already March, this year is flying by!! My life has been incredibly exciting recently, lots of traveling.”