Just days after Lindsay Lohan got slapped with a lawsuit by a paparazzo claiming he was injured when her car sped away from a Hollywood club in January 2010, country crooner Keith Urban may be the next celeb targeted. Urban allegedly attacked a freelance photographer on December 31st, punching the photog in the face more than ten times. Robert Wolf claims he tried to snap a picture of Urban when he was with his wife, Nicole Kidman, at lunch in Studio City when Urban attacked him, unprovoked. Wolf, 52, was sent to the hospital with a laceration and multiple bruises on his face.
This isn’t the first run-in Urban has had with the paparazzi. In August, Nashville paparazzo Willem Pieterson filed a police report claiming the star kicked and banged his car when he tried to snap a photo. The police report was classified as intimidation after it was revealed Urban yelled at Pieterson before going after his car.
Urban has expressed his distaste for the paparazzi in the past, saying in a 2007 interview, “We just try and value our privacy, but there are certain situations where you’re going to get photographed…that’s all there is to it. And we both accept that. But when it starts to move into stalking and unnecessary invasiveness, that’s when anybody with any dignity gets a little disturbed by that type of behavior.”
However, Wolf’s attorney, Bob Cohen, says celebrities often get away with these unprovoked attacks, and the city attorney often declines prosecutions, because of their A-list status. “Unfortunately, when celebrities are involved, there is often a double standard and they seem to often get a free pass for the same assault and battery that normal everyday people would go to jail for. It is time that the same standard apply to all of us. Celebrities do not have a special status that entitles them to injure others who are entirely within their legal rights and then to again and again get a free pass without prosecution.”
For instance, when Russell Brand attacked a paparazzo at LAX airport in September 2010 he was charged with simple battery and freed on $20,000 bail. However, the city attorney declined prosecution. Similarly, when Kanye West attacked a paparazzo at LAX in September 2008 a court commissioner dismissed criminal charges and he was not prosecuted. West settled the civil case.
Cohen says had Urban been prosecuted for past run-ins with photographers he would be deterred from attacking them. “Knowing he will again not be punished for attacking citizens emboldens him and encourages him to repeat this type of conduct.”
Wolf is currently under doctor’s care for various facial injuries and other injuries.