Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony domestic violence charge stemming from his arrest at a Southern California hospital where his wife was being treated for injuries.
Voynov, suspended by the NHL since his arrest, is scheduled to return to court later this month. The 24-year-old Russian Olympian, who appeared in court Monday with an interpreter, is facing a single count of corporal injury to a spouse with great bodily injury.
Prosecutors had asked that bond be increased to $85,000, but the amount remained at $50,000 after Monday's court appearance. Voynov also was allowed to have "peaceful" contact with the accuser, who provided an affidavit to the court that said she does not feel threatened by him.
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He is scheduled to return to court Dec. 15. Voynov and his attorneys did not respond to a request outside the courtroom for comment after Monday's hearing, which was attended by a member of the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco.
"I'm just here to make sure all the rights of a Russian citizen are followed," said representative Evgeny Uspenskiy.
Defense attorney Craig Renetzky said when his client was charged that Voynov was "extremely disappointed" with the decision to file a case against him and "maintains his innocence."
Voynov was arrested Oct. 20 at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, where his wife was being treated for injuries to her eyebrow, cheek and neck that prosecutors allege she suffered during an argument with her husband the previous night. Immediately following his arrest, Voynov was suspended with pay by the National Hockey League.
Officers went to Voynov's home in the 800 block of Avenue C the night of Oct. 19 in response to a report of a woman heard screaming and crying. No one responded at the residence, but Redondo Beach officer were contacted later that morning by the Torrance Police Department regarding a woman being treated at Little Company of Mary Hospital emergency room.
If convicted, Voynov could face up to nine years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.
In a statement released soon after the charge was filed against Voynov, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said, "We are aware of the actions taken today in California, which we will review and evaluate before making any decisions. Until further notice, the current terms of Mr. Voynov's suspension remain in place."
The Los Angeles Kings issued a statement saying that the team maintains "our support of the NHL's indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov. As an organization we will continue to closely monitor the developments of the legal proceedings and work in partnership with the NHL to determine the proper course of action in the future."
Voynov has been suspended by the league from all club activities since the arrest. The league's collective bargaining agreement allows for the suspension of a player during a criminal investigation.
Unlike the NFL and NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball do not have policies specific to domestic violence. Penalties are usually handed out at the discretion of the commissioner on a case-by-case basis.
The case follows other recent domestic violence investigations that involved high-profile professional athletes, including NFL running back Ray Rice. The Rice case and video of the assault in a casino elevator led to a new NFL policy regarding domestic violence offenders.
An arbitrator ruled Friday that Rice's suspension for punching his fiancee, now his wife, should be vacated immediately. The NFL said Rice, a free agent, is "eligible to play upon signing a new contract."