Ray Rice's criminal case was handled "outrageously" and "shamefully" ... this according to numerous prosecutors in the office ... TMZ Sports has learned.
Multiple prosecutors in the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office have spoken with TMZ -- on condition of anonymity -- and they say it is "virtually unheard of" for their office to allow someone like Ray Rice to avoid felony charges. What's more ... they say it all happened behind closed doors ... behind their backs.
We previously reported ... the grand jury indicted Rice for felony abuse after viewing the elevator video posted on TMZ Sports. Rice's lawyer then petitioned for something called PTI -- Pre-trial Intervention -- which gives first time offenders a break ... reducing the charge to a minor offense.
As one prosecutor said, "If there is violence or even a threat of violence by the perpetrator, prosecutors almost always object to a PTI and judges always follow the prosecutor's wishes" ... meaning the case gets tried as a felony.
Not so with Rice. We're told the case did NOT go to the Domestic Violence Unit ... which is where it should have gone. Instead, it was micromanaged by Jim McClain, the prosecutor who runs the office and his number 2 prosecutor, Diane Ruberton. The Domestic Violence Unit was in the dark.
Another prosecutor said, "Never did I see a case this violent get PTI. It's off the charts abnormal."
The prosecutors say virtually everyone in the office was outraged when the case was closed on May 20. As one prosecutor said, "The video is disgusting. He [Rice] treated her like a pile of s***, human garbage, dragging her out of the elevator."
And it gets worse. We're told either on June 17 or 18 ... Jim McClain called all of the prosecutors into the conference room and said he would no longer use the Domestic Violence Unit to process cases where the grand jury indicts abusers. We're told McClain said it was just a matter of resources.
But our sources say McClain's decision is a disaster. They say the cases are now handled by overworked prosecutors who handle general crimes and don't have the time or training to handle DV cases. They have no time to help the victims through the process. Our sources say McClain has "all but obliterated the DV Unit."
As for why McClain handled the Rice case the way he did and then emasculated the DV unit ... none of the prosecutors have a clue.
McClain tells TMZ Sports Diane Ruberton is "one of our most experienced attorneys," adding she was assisted by a Victim Witness Coordinator. McClain also said he consulted with Ruberton and another prosecutor who handles PTI domestic violence applications, before deciding not to object to Rice's PTI bid.
McClain says, "Any allegation or intimation that this matter was handled by persons who were inexperienced or unqualified is baseless."
Tells Wheelchair-Bound Concertgoer ...
Stand Up or I'm Not Rapping!
9/13/2014 7:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Kanye West refused to continue performing Friday night at his Australian concert until someone in the crowd stood up with everyone else ... problem is, the person was in a wheelchair.
Kanye was playing a gig at the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney when he stopped rapping mid-song ... ordering the crowd to get on their feet before he'd continue.
An eyewitness told the Daily Mail Australia that Kanye said, "I can't do this show until everybody stand up. Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and s**t."
One person in the crowd waved their prosthetic leg in the air and Kanye said they could sit.
Shortly after Kanye spotted another person in the crowd sitting down and once again stopped the show -- then sent one of his employees into the crowd to make sure the person was handicap.
Once the hired gun confirmed the disability ... Kanye said "it's fine" and rapped on.
As you may recall ... Kanye gifted his microphone to a wheelchair-bound concertgoer earlier this summer -- so it doesn't appear like he's got any issue with the disabled.
We also spoke with someone in the crowd ... and they say Kanye clearly didn't mean to offend -- the whole thing is just being blown out of proportion.
Booked For Child Abuse
9/13/2014 6:54 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Adrian Peterson turned himself over to authorities early Saturday morning on child abuse charges ... faintly smiling for his mug shot.
Peterson was booked in Houston just after 1 AM and released a half hour later.
The football star is accused of beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch ... hitting him so hard it left welts and caused him to bleed.
Peterson actually admitted to cops he gave his son "a whooping" and says it's the same treatment he got as a kid. Peterson's lawyer adds that his client "deeply regrets the unintentional injury."
The Vikings have deactivated Peterson for Sunday's game.
Stars and Scars
You Be the Judge
9/13/2014 12:50 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The Ray Rice elevator video resonated about as big as anything in TMZ's 9-year history. So we gotta ask ...
'Orange is the New Black'
Writer Files for Divorce
Show Made Me Realize ... I'm a Lesbian!
9/13/2014 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
One of the head writers for "Orange is the New Black" has filed for divorce ... the logical step since she's now realized she's a lesbian and is dating one of the female stars.
Lauren Morelli just filed divorce docs -- obtained by TMZ -- from her husband of 2 years, Steve Basilone. It's actually a joint petition ... probably because Steve realizes that ship has sailed.
The story is amazing. Lauren began writing for OITNB 5 months after she got hitched. Lauren says as she started writing for the main character -- who had once been in a lesbian relationship -- she saw herself in the character. Lauren says she began to feel like a fraud ... married to a man but clearly gay.
According to Lauren ... as she began writing about Piper's blossoming relationship with the very hot Alex ... "I found a mouthpiece for my own desires and a glimmer of what my future could look like."
Enter Samira Wiley -- who plays Poussey. It's Lauren's new GF.
According to divorce docs, it's all very amicable. She gets her Lexus, her apartment and her sapphire engagement ring. He gets the Mazda hatchback.
Paris Hilton's Family
We're Not Coke Smugglers!
9/13/2014 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Paris Hilton's family is breaking bad -- if you believe a Costa Rican newspaper ... which reported cops had seized 400-kilos of cocaine and $1.5M in cash at a Costa Rican ranch owned by the Hiltons.
But the family tells TMZ ... the story -- which has now gone viral -- just ain't true.
The newspaper, Diario Extra, reported cops found the coke and cash during the search of a plane at the ranch's private airstrip. Some reports said Rick and Kathy Hilton were actually at the compound during the raid.
But a rep for the Hiltons tells us ... they're shocked by the story because they don't even own a ranch in Costa Rica, adding they have "absolutely nothing to do with this."
Besides, who's got money for coke ... when you're shelling out $13K for a dog?
JOHN TRAVOLTA'S NEW
LOOK WILL GIVE
YOU THE WILLYS
9/13/2014 12:20 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Here's the 60-year-old John Travolta showing off his freshly sprouted mane and matching chin gristle at a movie premiere earlier this week (left) and a magnetic looking makeover on the classic kids toy The Original Wooly Willy (right).
Both are attractive looks.
We're just sayin'.
'Blood, Sweat & Heels' Star
Arrested For Stiffing Cabbie
9/13/2014 12:10 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Bravo reality star Geneva S. Thomas got nailed in an alleged ride 'n dash ... after cops say she skipped out on an $18 cab fare in NYC.
According to the police report ... the "Blood, Sweat & Heels" cast member was booked Tuesday after a taxi company claimed she took off before paying the driver, and now she faces theft charges.
Law enforcement tells us ... they were able to track down Geneva because the driver took note of the address where he dropped her off -- something they tend to do if you don't pay.
Geneva claims the whole thing is BS and says she's planning to sue the NYPD and the taxi company.
Her attorney tells TMZ ...the cabbie became hostile because Thomas told him she didn't have cash and would have to pay by credit card ... and that he purposely took a longer route to increase the fare. Thomas claims she was the one who called the cops -- who arrested her unjustly.
For now, she has a court date in January. She might want to walk.
First You Get the Money ...
Then You Get the 18-yr. Old GF
9/13/2014 12:02 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
9/13/2014 12:01 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Sex Tape May Be Real ... but There's a Catch
9/12/2014 9:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Beware of My $13,000 Dog!
You Might Sit On It
9/12/2014 6:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Sued For $10 Mil
Accused Of Beating Pap
9/12/2014 2:40 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Sam Worthington and his girlfriend are now facing a $10 million lawsuit ... stemming from their violent run-in with a paparazzo in NYC earlier this year.
According to the docs ... Sheng Li accuses Sam and GF Lara Bingle of viciously assaulting him in February outside a bar where he was snapping photos.
Both are also being accused of slander and libel ... for allegedly making false statements about him to the NYPD.
Li says he suffered a torn shoulder, facial contusions, injuries to his thumb and wrist, and adds he might need surgery ... according to the docs.