Los Angeles prosecutors said Friday that they have declined to charge attorney Michael Avenatti with misdemeanor domestic violence but will hold hearings on the allegations, the AP reports. Actress Mareli Miniutti got a restraining order against Avenatti in November after accusing him of dragging her by the arm across a bedroom floor of his apartment following an argument. Avenatti, who represents porn actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump, has denied the allegations and said on Twitter that the decision by prosecutors vindicates him. "I am extremely thankful that after three thorough investigations, one by the LAPD, one by the LA District Attorney, and one by the LA City Attorney, the truth of my innocence is now established and no charges are being brought," Avenatti said.
An attorney for Miniutti said he was notified of the decision by the supervising attorney of the city attorney's family violence unit that prosecutors believed his client but didn't think they could win a conviction. "This decision is an outrage not only for Ms. Miniutti, but for women everywhere," attorney Michael Bachner said in a statement. "The message sent to victims of abuse is clear—think carefully before you come forward." Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, said charges could be brought on allegations of spousal abuse or battery after informal hearings in which the alleged victim and Avenatti will be able to present their cases. The decision to hold the closed-door hearing reflects that the case is "on the fence," said defense lawyer Stephen G. Rodriguez, who is not involved in the matter. (Avenatti was considering running for president in 2020.)