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Corey Dillon -- The Soy Sauce Defense

5/3/2010 4:07 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

A source close to retired NFL star Corey Dillon tells TMZ the ex-running back is adamant that he didn't lay a hand on his wife last night -- but he may have splashed her with soy sauce. 

As TMZ first reported, Dillon was arrested for felony spousal abuse at his home in Calabasas last night after his wife, Desiree Dillon, called 911 claiming she had been assaulted. 

Our source says Corey admits that he and his wife -- who filed for divorce last month -- were having a heated verbal argument during dinner when they began "throwing water and soy sauce" at each other ... but Corey vehemently denies that he roughed up Desiree.

Corey was eventually released on $50,000 bail.

UPDATE: TMZ spoke with Desiree, who told us there was a heated incident between the two of them -- but stressed that Corey never hit her.

As for why she called police, Desiree says she needed help to "defuse the situation."


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