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Riverhead woman sues former Mets player Wally Backman, alleging assault

The woman who accused Long Island Ducks manager Wally Backman of assault last month said at a press conference Tuesday that the former Mets player left her fearing for her life. 

Amanda Byrnes, 39, of Riverhead filed a civil suit last Thursday against Mr. Backman, her boyfriend of roughly two months. Ms. Byrnes is suing both Mr. Backman and the Long Island Ducks Baseball Club, claiming physical abuse and sexual harassment.

She said at the press conference that Mr. Backman, who played on the World Series champion ’86 Mets, engaged in a fit of heavy drinking on Thursday, Aug. 29, resulting in an argument that continued into the following morning before getting physical. According to a criminal complaint filed by Riverhead Town police, her injuries required medical attention.

Mr. Backman, 60, of Deer Park, was arrested Aug. 30 on fourth-degree criminal mischief and second-degree harassment charges.

“It’s been awful, the relationship with him for the past several weeks,” Ms. Byrnes said at the press conference. “The argument continued throughout the whole nighttime. He would come home drunk; continue to drink the whole evening until wee hours of the morning.”

At around 6:20 a.m., Ms. Byrnes decided to get ready for work. It was then, she said, that Mr. Backman told her she wasn’t going to work, and he accused her of having an affair with a baseball player on the Ducks team. Ms. Byrnes said Mr. Backman warned her not to speak with or contact any of his players. Eventually, Ms. Byrnes got up and left the room.

“He had followed me into the hallway at that point, threw me up against the wall, pressed on my chest area where I have a pacemaker,” she said. “I started having pain and I had stated to him I had pain and he said to me at that point [that] he was gonna knock me out.”

According to Ms. Byrnes, the pacemaker allows her to have a viable heart beat and the pressure Mr. Backman applied caused the device to become misplaced. She and her attorney, John Ray of Miller Place, who hosted the press conference, said they have medical records to corroborate that.

“He could care less at that point because he was not only still intoxicated, he showed no fear whatsoever or concern as to what he could have done to me at that point,” she said at the press conference. “When I attempted to call for help, he took my cellphone out of my hand … I wanted to call my mother or a coworker and call 911 to get help because I didn’t know if he was actually going to kill me or what his intentions were.”

Ms. Byrnes said she texted a coworker and her mother after the incident occurred. One of her coworkers came to her house, she said, and her mother called the town police, leading to Mr. Backman’s arrest.

The Ducks issued a statement last month, which in part reads: “We have spoken with Wally and understand he categorically denies all charges against him. Wally will continue as manager and neither he nor the Long Island Ducks will comment further on this pending legal matter.”

Mr. Backman’s attorney, Stephen Civardi, sent The News-Review court records from the New York State Unified Court System that describe Ms. Byrnes as having accused others of abuse. These records show that Ms. Byrnes has also been arrested on numerous occasions since 2002 for an array of charges, including endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated harassment and for falsely reporting an incident. The documents state that she pleaded guilty to some of these charges.

Mr. Ray said Ms. Byrnes does not engage in the filing of false reports, adding that she has been the subject of abuse by other men for years.

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