Clarke Regrets Supporting Abuser

Thursday, July 20th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke said Thursday he regrets signing an affidavit in support of an admitted wife-beater.

Clarke signed an affidavit July 11 in support of lower bail for New Jersey businessman Robert Stevenson. The affidavit offered Stevenson a job and a place to stay until his trial.

``With hindsight, it was a dumb thing to do. I wasn't knowing at the time I signed it there was going to be this big thing,'' Clarke told The Associated Press. ``I was certainly not supporting somebody who beat up on his wife.''

Stevenson had been set for a bail reduction hearing this week when he pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated assault and bail-jumping for beating his wife in 1997 and fleeing. Melody Stevenson, who has since reconciled with him, suffered a fractured skull, four broken ribs, a punctured lung and a concussion.

As part of the plea agreement, charges of attempted murder were dropped, though bail remained at $1 million. Stevenson faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 18.

In the affidavit, Clarke said he met Stevenson through the gym Clarke owns in Cherry Hill, N.J., and that they had been friends for more than 10 years. Clarke also promised to provide Stevenson with a place to live and a job.

``I wasn't supporting him. All I was doing was offering him a place to stay if he got out of jail,'' Clarke said.

Two local newspaper columnists criticized Clarke this week for signing the affidavit. A Philadelphia Daily News columnist called Clarke ``either naive, insensitive or just plain stupid.''

Clarke said he thought the story was blown out of proportion.

``Mrs. Porter implied that I was using the Flyers and using my name to pressure the judge into helping this wife-beater. That was not it at all,'' Clarke said.