‘Free Willy’ Star Jason James Richter Gets Arrested For Domestic Violence

Jason James Richter attends Horror Nights.
Randy Shropshire / Getty Images

Things have taken a bad turn for former child actor Jason James Richter.

As many know, Richter first gained fame by starring as Jesse in the hit film Free Willy. In the movie, he played a troubled boy who would do anything to help free Willy the whale, who was set to be killed by the aquarium owners. After the first movie, he also stared in sequels Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home and Free Willy 3: The Rescue.

But recently, Richter got into a bit of trouble — and is now making headlines for all of the wrong reasons. According to TMZ, the actor was arrested in the San Fernando Valley on Monday. According to reports, Richter got into an altercation with his girlfriend that evening at their home. The fight was allegedly over the fact that Richter believed that his girlfriend was being unfaithful to him with a co-worker. Things got really heated, prompting Richter to leave — only to return to the home later.

When he returned to the home, his girlfriend had barricaded herself in the bedroom. The 38-year-old then broke down the door to the bedroom and pulled her into the living room. The cops were not called to the couples’ home — but a few hours after the argument, Richter’s girlfriend showed up to the police station and filed a report against the troubled actor. She claimed that Richter grabbed her by the wrists during the fight, but there were no visible marks on her arms when she filed the report.

Of course, Richter was later arrested and spent two nights in jail. He was released this past Wednesday, after posting $20,000 bail. He was charged on two counts — vandalism for breaking the door, and one count of battery with no physical harm.

Jason’s reps have not returned calls to comment on the situation, and it is unclear when the actor will appear in court. He could spend a year in prison if he is found guilty of said charges.

Just a few years ago, Free Willy celebrated its 20th anniversary — and Richter was interviewed by The Daily Beast about the film. Many people have a hard time believing that it’s been so long — now 25 years — since the film came out, including Jason Richter.

“It makes me feel old, dude,” he told the publication at the time. “I’ve had kids come to me and say, ‘Oh, I loved your movie when I was a kid and I became a marine biologist.’ It’s crazy.”

According to his IMDb page, Richter currently has a few projects in the works.