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Suns' Jackson accused of getting infant high, court records show

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 6/21/2019 Lauren Castle

Josh Jackson holding a basketball

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The baby of Phoenix Suns forward Josh Jackson appeared to be under the influence of marijuana after spending time at Jackson's home, according to court filings from the infant's mother.

Jackson is accused of using marijuana near his 5-month-old girl, according to records in Maricopa County (Arizona) Family Court.

This comes a month after he was arrested in Florida, accused of resisting an officer arrest at a music festival. 

Marijuana is a prohibited substance in the NBA and is illegal for recreational use in Arizona. The court records do not mention Jackson being a medical marijuana patient. Medical marijuana use is legal in the state with a valid card.

Since January, Jackson, 22, and the child's mother, Lorena Villela, 41, have been in Family Court addressing paternity, child support and other issues involving the baby, who was born in January. 

Villela claimed she smelled marijuana multiple times when picking up her child from Jackson's home. 

The parents have repeatedly tried to seal the case from the public.

A judge ruled in March that the parents have not demonstrated why the proceedings should be closed or the records should be sealed. 

Villela, a property manager, served one month in county jail and successfully completed three years of probation after a child-abuse conviction in 2008.

Villela accused Jackson of drug use several times in a motion filed June 4 requesting drug testing. 

Jackson asked the court to seal her request for the drug test. Villela objected. The judge hasn't yet ruled on the drug test request.

According to court records, she claims she is not trying to hurt his public image or ability to make an income with her desire for a drug test. 

"If father was truly concerned for the best interest of the minor child and how his public image may impact the minor child, he would not be getting arrested for attempting to flee police custody," Ryan Reppucci, Villela's attorney, said in a court filing in the case. 

Monica Kim, Jackson's attorney, said in a statement: “Josh Jackson categorically denies these defamatory and deeply upsetting allegations. He would never endanger the well-being of his daughter or any other child. Period. We look forward to clearing Josh’s name as swiftly as possible and continuing to pursue justice for his daughter. ”

Drug-use allegations

A paternity test proving Jackson was the child's father was completed in April by LabCorp.

Jackson then filed for parenting time. On May 16, he arrived with his aunt to meet her.

"Father had a heavy odor of and appeared to be under the influence of marijuana," Villela's filing said. 

She stated she smelled marijuana once again May 20 when she arrived at Jackson's house with the child's nanny for a two-hour visit.

"While sitting in the living room, the child's nanny noticed a large marijuana blunt on the coffee table, in plain sight," the filing said. 

Villela claimed after the baby spent time with Jackson May 22, Villela noticed she was "very lethargic."

According to court records, Jackson told Villela "the child had a busy day." 

The mother tried to wake up the baby throughout the night. 

"Mother believing that the child may have just been kept very active throughout the day, just continued to monitor the child's breathing," the filing said. 

Villela said she forced the baby to wake up after she did not move for a long time. She claimed the baby "appeared to be high and could only lift her eyelids to midway point," she stated in court records. 

Villela accused Jackson of using drugs while taking care of the child June 2.  

At the time, she dropped off the infant at Jackson's house a week after he had surgery. According to court records, he had told her earlier that he was taking pain medication. 

She said when picking up their child from Jackson's home, she again smelled marijuana. 

A court filing stated Villela texted Jackson and he replied, "Lol the people in this house will tell you I don't do that when she's around or before I see her so say what you want." 

In a response to the court, Villela reiterated that her wanting Jackson to submit to a drug test was done in good faith.  

"Father disingenuously attempts to shift blame to mother, claiming that mother's allegations of marijuana use may damage father's public image and his ability to earn an income," the response said.

Off-the-court issues 

Phoenix selected Jackson, a 6-foot-8 small forward, fourth overall in the 2017 NBA draft. He became a collegiate star in his one season at Kansas, but he had off-court issues. 

Kansas coach Bill Self suspended him for one game in the 2017 Big 12 Tournament after he was cited for "duty upon striking an unattended vehicle, inattentive driving and improper backing" on campus. 

He was also charged with criminal property damage in 2016 when a Kansas women's basketball player told police Jackson yelled at her and did more than $3,000 worth of damage to her car at a party. 

The NBA fined him $35,000 for making a "menacing gesture" and directing "inappropriate language" at a fan during a Oct. 21 game in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

The Phoenix Suns fined him $20,000 for missing an autograph session at a Fry's grocery store in February. He apologized and said he had "family issues," but the team said he violated team rules. 

“Honestly, it shouldn't have never been public knowledge," Jackson said at the time. "We have team rules. We've been fined in the past before and you've never known about it. That shouldn't be public information."

Mother's legal issues

According to Maricopa County Superior Court records, Villela was convicted of child abuse and domestic violence charges resulting from an incident in 2007. 

Police were called to the Scottsdale Family Advocacy Center after a child said he was hit with a belt on his legs and back by Villela.

The child and his sibling told the officer they were spanked repeatedly by Villela. One of them claimed it was up to 30 times. 

A nurse documented injuries and bruising on the children on the legs, thighs, buttocks and back. 

According to the police report, Villela stated she spanked the children for discipline reasons. She said the younger one did not have any significant bruises before or after the spanking. She was not able to explain the cause of his injuries, according to the police report. 

An officer located a wool belt in the home and asked Villela if it was the one that was used. Villela said it was, but that she spanked one of the children with the wool part of the belt until he laughed and then used the metal buckle to hit him. 

Republic reporter Duane Rankin contributed to this article. 

Have thoughts about Arizona’s legal system? Reach criminal justice reporter Lauren Castle at Lauren.Castle@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter: @Lauren_Castle.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Josh Jackson of Phoenix Suns accused of getting infant high, court records show

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