'Free Willy' Star Jason James Richter Arrested

Former child actor Jason James Richter, who starred in Free Willy in 1993, was arrested for domestic violence, TMZ reports.

jason-james-richter-free-willy_getty-Archive Photos : Stringer
(Photo: Archive Photos / Stringer, Getty)

The 38-year-old was arrested Monday night in the San Fernando Valley for misdemeanor domestic violence, law enforcement sources told the news outlet. He spent two nights in jail before he was released Wednesday on $20,000 bail.

Richter's representative told TMZ that the arrest followed an argument with his girlfriend around 7 p.m. at their home. Law enforcement sources said he asked her if she was having an affair with a coworker. After things escalated, Richter left — but returned later.

The girlfriend told police she locked herself in her bedroom. Richter allegedly broke down the door and pulled her into the living room. Four hours after the incident, she filed a police report for domestic violence at the police station.

Authorities told the news outlet that the girlfriend claims he "grabbed her."

Richter was charged with one count of vandalism for breaking the door and another count of battery on a significant other with no physical injury. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

Richter starred as Jesse in Free Willy as well as in its sequels, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home and Free Willy 3: The Rescue. He played an orphan who befriends an orca at a water park, eventually setting him free in the wild. Michael Jackson's hit song "Will You Be There" is often attached to the movie, as it played during a key scene.

jason-james-richter_getty-Albert L. Ortega : Contributor
(Photo: Albert L. Ortega / Contributor, Getty)

The Daily Mail reports that Richter landed the role in Free Willy after being chosen out of more than 4,000 young auditions. After the Free Willy franchise, he landed roles in The Never-Ending Story III, Cops & Robbersons and TV shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Rugrats.

He stepped away from acting and toward the music business when he was 18. His role opposite Kate Hudson in 2001's Ricochet River was his only film for almost 10 years. In 2009, he acted in Tekken and appeared on the TV show Bones.


He had seven projects slated for 2018, including the horror movie Ghost in the Graveyard and the thriller Driver.

Photo credit: Archive Photos / Stringer / Getty Images