Actor from Army’s pulled ‘Be all you can be’ ads convicted of assault

by Tommy Grant

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:35p.m. EST with additional information.

NEW YORK — Jonathan Majors, once the on-screen star of the Army’s revived “Be all you can be” campaign, was convicted Monday of assaulting his former girlfriend after a two-week trial that he hoped would restore his status as an emerging Hollywood star, but did just the opposite with Marvel Studios and the Walt Disney Co. dropping him immediately after his conviction.

A Manhattan jury found Majors, 34, guilty of one misdemeanor assault charge and one harassment violation. He was acquitted of a different assault charge and of aggravated harassment.

Majors, who was asked to stand and face the jurors as the verdict was read, showed no immediate reaction, looking slightly downward. He declined to comment as he left the courthouse.

Marvel and Disney immediately dropped Majors from all upcoming projects following the conviction, said a person close to the studio who was granted anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Majors, whose credits include “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” “Devotion” and “Da 5 Bloods,” had been one of the fastest-rising stars in Hollywood. The actor, who attended the Yale School of Drama, also starred as a troubled amateur bodybuilder in “Magazine Dreams,” which made an acclaimed debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January and was earlier set to open in theaters this month. Ahead of Majors’ trial, the Disney-owned distributor Searchlight Pictures, removed “Magazine Dreams” from its release calendar.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement that the trial showed a pattern of abuse and coercion that a jury determined “culminated with Mr. Majors assaulting and harassing his girlfriend.”

Majors’ sentencing was set for Feb. 6. He faces the possibility of up to a year in jail for the assault conviction, though probation or other non-jail sentences also are possible.

In a statement provided to Army Times, Majors’ attorney Priya Chaudhry said they were “disappointed” over the decision.

“Mr. Majors is grateful to God, his family, his friends, and his fans for their love and support during these harrowing eight months,” Chaudhry wrote. “Mr. Majors still has faith in the process and looks forward to fully clearing his name.”

The charges stemmed from a dispute between the “Creed III” actor and his girlfriend, Grace Jabbari, that began in the backseat of a chauffeured car and spilled into the streets of Manhattan one night last March.

Jabbari, a 30-year-old British dancer, accused Majors of an attack inside the vehicle that left her in “excruciating” pain. She said he struck her in the head with his open hand, twisted her arm behind her back and squeezed her middle finger until it fractured.

Majors’ lawyers said she was the aggressor, alleging that she flew into a jealous rage after reading a text message on his phone sent by another woman. They said Jabbari had spread a “fantasy” to take down the actor, who was only trying to regain his phone and get away safely.

The verdict dealt a major blow to Majors, who was on the verge of Hollywood stardom until his arrest in March sent his career into a tailspin.

The Army was among the first of Majors’ clients to pull the plug on their engagements with the 34-year-old after his arrest. He was a guest of honor when the service rolled out its brand new branding and advertising campaign, for which he served as an on-screen narrator. But when news broke of the assault, the Army almost immediately yanked its new advertising campaign from the airwaves.

The move — first reported by Army Times — sent Army marketers scrambling to cut new commercials and avoid losing tens of millions of dollars in prepaid airtime during the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four rounds of its March Madness tournament.

Majors arrived in the courtroom each morning carrying a gold-leaf Bible, offering hugs to his family members and his current girlfriend, actress Meagan Good, before taking his seat. Expressionless for much of the testimony, he wiped away tears as his attorney, Priya Chaudhry, urged jurors to “end this nightmare for Jonathan Majors.”

But as Majors sought vindication from the jury, the trial also brought forth new evidence about his troubled relationship with Jabbari, whom he met on the set of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” two years ago.

Accusing Majors of a “cruel and manipulative pattern” of abuse, prosecutors shared text messages that showed the actor begging Jabbari not to seek hospital treatment for an earlier head injury. One message warned “it could lead to an investigation even if you do lie and they suspect something.”

They also played audio of Majors declaring himself a “great man,” then questioning whether Jabbari could meet the high standards set by the spouses of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. Majors’ attorneys countered that Jabbari had surreptitiously recorded her boyfriend as part of a plot to “destroy” his career.

Over four days of tearful testimony, Jabbari said Majors was excessively controlling and prone to fits of explosive rage that left her afraid “physically quite a lot.” She broke down on the witness stand as a jury watched security footage from the aftermath of the backseat confrontation. Prosecutors described it as showing Majors “manhandling” her and shoving her back in the car “as if she was a doll.”

Majors did not take the stand. But Chaudhry said her client was the victim of “white lies, big lies, and pretty little lies” invented by Jabbari to exact revenge on an unfaithful partner.

The attorney cited security footage, taken immediately after the shove, that showed Majors sprinting away from his girlfriend as she chased him through the night. Jabbari then followed a group of strangers she’d met on the street to a dance club, where she ordered drinks for the group and did not appear to be favoring her injured hand.

“She was revenge-partying and charging Champagne to the man she was angry with and treating these strangers to fancy Champagne she bought with Jonathan’s credit card,” Chaudhry alleged.

The next morning, after finding Jabbari unconscious in the closet of their Manhattan penthouse, Majors called police. He was arrested at the scene, while Jabbari was transported to a hospital to receive treatment for the injuries to her ear and hand.

“He called 911 out of concern for her, and his fear of what happens when a Black man in America came true,” Chaudhry said, accusing police and prosecutors of failing to take seriously Majors’ allegations that he was bloodied and scratched during the dispute.

In her closing arguments, prosecutor Kelli Galaway said Majors was following a well-worn playbook used by abusers to reverse the narrative by casting their victims as attackers.

“This is not a revenge plot to ruin the defendant’s life or his career,” Galaway said. “You were asked why you are here? Because domestic violence is serious.”

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the maximum one year jail penalty is for the assault conviction, not the harassment charge.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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