NEW YORK – Supermodel Naomi Campbell was charged with assault for throwing her cell phone at a housekeeper after accusing her of stealing clothes when she couldn't find a pair of jeans she wanted to wear on "Oprah," prosecutors said.
She was released on her own recognizance and allowed to keep her passport after her lawyer argued that her famous face would prevent her from fleeing.
"She is probably the most recognized and prominent model in the world," defense attorney David Breitbart told a judge Thursday in Manhattan Criminal Court. "There is no place she could go and not be recognized."
Campbell, wearing a white fur poncho, was arraigned on a charge of second-degree assault before Judge Richard Weinberg, who allowed Breitbart to enter a plea of not guilty on her behalf.
The housekeeper was treated at a hospital for a cut that required four staples, said Assistant District Attorney Elina Kreditor, who asked the judge to set bail at $3,500 and to order Campbell, who is British, to surrender her passport.
Breitbart called the request for $3,500 bail "an insult," saying his client's Park Avenue apartment is worth more than $3 million and she earns "more than six figures on a regular basis."
He said Campbell needed her passport for a trip to South Africa next week to visit Nelson Mandela. He asked the judge for orders to keep the housekeeper away from Campbell's apartment.
The judge said the housekeeper, Ana Scolavino, would have to give up her key to the apartment and issued an order of protection against Campbell, telling her she could have no contact with the employee. He scheduled her next court appearance for June 27.
The assault took place at about 8:30 a.m. inside Campbell's apartment, according to a criminal complaint. The housekeeper was hit in the back of the head and was treated at Lenox Hill Hospital, it said.
Campbell was taken into custody shortly after police responded to the hospital to investigate the reported attack.
Facing a familiar sea of cameras, Campbell exited a Manhattan police station shortly after 4 p.m. in a scene that was part runway, part perp walk. Scores of photographers, reporters and film crews had gathered to record her departure; she responded by flashing a quick smile.
In a statement, a Campbell spokesman said the supermodel was not responsible for any assault.
"We believe this is a case of retaliation, because Naomi had fired her housekeeper earlier this morning," said the statement from J.R. Johnson. "We are confident the courts will see it the same way."
This was not the first time the volatile Campbell, 35, was accused of reaching out and touching someone with a phone. In 2003, the supermodel was sued by a former administrative assistant who said Campbell had thrown a phone at her during a tantrum two years earlier.
In August 2004, in the same apartment, Campbell and her maid battled it out, with the worker claiming the supermodel slapped her across the face. Campbell accused maid Millicent Burton of instigating the fight.
Campbell was discovered at age 15 and launched a career that landed her in magazines worldwide — including the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Campbell's high-profile lifestyle has included appearances in music videos by George Michael and Jay-Z and a close friendship with Mandela.
The international modeling sensation has appeared in several films and dabbled in a musical career.
The mercurial Campbell has a reputation for angry outbursts and abusive behavior. She pleaded guilty in Toronto to an assault charge for beating another assistant while making a film in Canada in 1998.
She also battled a cocaine addiction before reportedly getting straight several years ago.