'Free Willy' Star Arrested and Charged With Domestic Violence

10/19/2018 1:00 AM PDT

'Free Willy' Star Jason James Richter Arrested and Charged with Domestic Violence

EXCLUSIVE

The actor who played a troubled kid in "Free Willy" has found himself in real trouble as an adult ... we've learned he was arrested for domestic violence.

Law enforcement sources tell us former child actor Jason James Richter was arrested Monday night in the San Fernando Valley for misdemeanor domestic violence. He spent two nights in jail before being released Wednesday.

Richter's people tell us he had an argument with his girlfriend at around 7 PM at their home. Law enforcement sources say he asked her about a coworker and whether they were having an affair. Things escalated and Richter left, but returned a short time later.

The girlfriend told police she retreated to the bedroom and locked the door. We're told Richter broke the door down to get in. She told cops he pulled her into the living room. 

Four hours later the girlfriend showed up at the police station and filed a report, claiming domestic violence.  

Richter's people tell us the girlfriend told cops he grabbed her wrists, but we're told cops did not see any visible marks. Authorities tell TMZ the GF claimed he "grabbed her." Richter's people tell us he denies the argument ever became physical. 

Richter starred as Jesse in 1993's "Free Willy" and its sequel "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home" -- in which he played an orphan who befriends an orca at a water park, and eventually sets him free into the wild. The first flick also became attached to one of Michael Jackson's hit songs from the '90s, "Will You Be There."

Richter has been charged with one count of vandalism for breaking the door and another count of battery on a significant other with no physical injury.

If convicted, he faces up to a year behind bars.