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Updated: Thu, 30 Jan 2014 08:42:21 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Justin Bieber charged with assault in Toronto



Canadian musician Justin Bieber is swarmed by media and police officers as he turns himself in to city police in Toronto on Wednesday. Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

Canadian musician Justin Bieber is swarmed by media and police officers as he turns himself in to city police in Toronto on Wednesday. Nathan Denette/Canadian Press

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has been charged with assault in connection with an incident involving a Toronto limousine driver in late December.

As CBC News first reported, Bieber agreed to turn himself in to Toronto police on Wednesday evening.

Police said the charges stem from an altercation between a limo driver and a passenger in the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 30, after a group of six people was picked up outside a nightclub in the area of Peter Street and Adelaide Street West.

Police said one of the passengers hit the limo driver in the head several times during the altercation. The driver stopped and called police, but the passenger left the scene before police arrived.

Emerging from a black SUV wearing a winter coat and a backward ball cap, Bieber was led through a throng of reporters and screaming fans. The pop star was escorted by several police officers — who linked arms to guide him through the mob — and a bodyguard.

Police said Bieber left the building through a back door about two hours after entering.

He is scheduled to appear in court at Old City Hall on March 10.

'Hope for the best in people'

Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, tweeted a request Wednesday night for the public to "be kind and hope for the best in people" and "not assume the worst."

Bieber's Canadian lawyer, Brian Greenspan, said he expects the singer's case to be treated as a low-level offence.

"Our position is that Mr. Bieber is innocent," he said in a written statement. "As the matter is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to address the specifics of either the allegation or the defence at this time."

The attorney said he expects the case to be treated as a summary offence, which is the equivalent of a misdemeanour in the United States.

Miami arrest

The charge is the latest legal scrape for the heartthrob who was born in London, Ont., and raised in nearby Stratford.

Last week Bieber was arrested in Miami Beach and charged with driving under the influence, resisting arrest without violence and driving with an expired licence after police said he had been stopped while drag racing down a street before dawn.

Bieber was accused of racing a rented, yellow Lamborghini alongside a red Ferrari driven by a friend identified as rhythm and blues singer Khalil.

Police said Bieber admitted to smoking marijuana, drinking and taking a prescription medication.

He was released on $2,500 bail.

Bieber's blood-alcohol level in the Miami incident wasn't released. Under Florida law, people under the age of 21 are considered driving under the influence if they have a blood-alcohol content of 0.02 or more — a level the 5-foot-9, 140-pound star could reach with one drink.

Court records show Bieber's attorney filed a written not guilty plea on Wednesday. Bieber already has an arraignment set for Feb. 14, but Florida law doesn't require the pop star to be present.

Earlier this month detectives searched Bieber's California home looking for surveillance footage that might serve as evidence that the singer was involved in an egg-tossing vandalism case that caused thousands of dollars in damage to a neighbour's home.

Last year represented a litany of lows for the singer, from clashing with a paparazzo to fainting at a show to being photographed smoking marijuana.

Some of his troubles have reached the bizarre: German authorities charged him thousands of dollars after he abandoned a pet monkey that they seized from him for failing to have proper vaccination papers; the singer had to apologize to Bill Clinton after cursing the former president and spraying his photo with cleaning fluid in a New York City restaurant kitchen.

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