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Mel Gibson pleads no contest to battery charge

In this Feb. 4, 2010 file photo, Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva arrive at the 'Edge Of Darkness' premiere in Paris. (Jacques Brinon)

March 11, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Actor-director Mel Gibson pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor spousal battery charge stemming from a January 2010 fight with his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.

In a plea deal, the 55-year-old was sentenced to 36 months of probation and ordered to attend 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling. He will also continue mental health counseling, which was started last January according to his attorney Blair Berk.

Judge Stephanie Sautner also directed him to complete 16 hours of community service with Mending Kids International, which provides surgical care to children. Gibson's estranged wife is on the nonprofit group's board of directors.

The actor must also pay $570 in fines and court costs.

A three-year protective order was also issued to keep Gibson from harassing his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, or anyone else involved in the case.

"I have a good grasp of everything my attorney has discussed with me," Gibson told Sautner when asked if he understood his plea.

The actor and his attorney stressed during the court hearing that Gibson was entering the plea to resolve the case, but he was not admitting guilt.

"He is entering this plea because it is in the best interest of his children your honor," said Berk.

Grigorieva, a Russian musician, did not attend the hearing but was represented by one of her attorneys.

Gibson said little during the brief hearing, except to acknowledge he understood the charge and plea. His subdued tone was marked contrast to the profane and racist rants in phone recording leaked last year.

Grigorieva claimed the 55-year-old actor punched her in the face and verbally abused her during a dispute at his Malibu home in January 2010.

The former couple ended their 2-year relationship last April and has been locked in a bitter custody dispute over their 1-year-old daughter, Lucia, for months.

In a separate decision Friday, prosecutors said they found insufficient evidence to charge Grigorieva with trying to extort Gibson. The actor made the allegation during custody negotiations with Grigorieva after their breakup.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this story.