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Case Dismissed Against Drugging Suspect

A judge on Monday dismissed a criminal case against a man who was accused of slipping a date-rape drug in the drink of former Olympic ice dancer Oksana "Pasha" Grishuk.

An attorney for James R. Halstead, 61, said the district attorney agreed to dismiss one felony count of administering a drug last week. The charge was formally voided at what was to be an arraignment hearing Monday in Orange County Superior Court, said attorney Michael Molfetta.

District attorney's spokeswoman Susan Schroeder said that after an independent investigation and talks with the defense attorney, prosecutors realized they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Toxicology tests on Grishuk's blood showed no trace of the drugs, she said.

"There was no corroborating evidence that would indicate who actually ... put the substance in the drink and we just couldn't prove who did it," Schroeder said. "There are many, many elements that we looked at."

A spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, which investigated the case, did not return a call.

Through her attorney, Gloria Allred, Grishuk said she was "very disappointed" by the district attorney's decision.

"I was looking forward to testifying in the criminal case," Grishuk said in a statement sent to The Associated Press by Allred.

"I hope that this decision by the DA will not deter other women from contacting law enforcement if they believe that someone has attempted to victimize them," she said.

Prosecutors charged Halstead last month after Grishuk, 36, reported finding dissolved pills in two drinks she consumed at the posh St. Regis Monarch hotel in Newport Beach while at a dinner meeting with Halstead.

The pills tested positive for Nimetazepam, which is similar to the date-rape drug GHB, but is usually found only in Asia and Europe and not the United States, sheriff's officials have said.

Molfetta, the defense attorney, called the case a "piece of junk" and said that two tests of Grishuk's blood came back negative for Nimetazepam. He also said that Halstead and Grishuk had had a lengthy romantic relationship and he had provided text messages, e-mails, telephone records and personal notes to the district attorney's office to prove it.

Grishuk denied a romantic relationship with Halstead during a news conference at the Sheriff's Department last month and repeated that denial in Monday's statement.

"They originally made a mistake in filing it and I think they corrected that mistake," Molfetta said of prosecutors. "I approached them. I said, 'This is not the way it looks, this woman is on a media tour.' It just struck me as being very, very odd and very, very suspicious."

Halstead said Grishuk wanted to marry him, but he was going through a divorce and told her no. He also said she wanted him to travel to Europe with her as her agent, but he refused.

"She got really upset with me because she said, 'Can't you find me a man with money who could take care of me?"' Halstead told The Associated Press by telephone. "She kept saying, 'Jim, I'm in love with you."'

Halstead said Grishuk initiated the April 12 meeting at the St. Regis because she accused him of missing Valentine's Day. He said he believes she slipped the pill in her own drink when he left to use the restroom for about 15 minutes.

"We seemed to be having a nice time. Next thing you know, she reaches into the glass and pulls out this pill and says, 'What is this?"' Halstead said. "I don't why she did this, whether she was mad at me or crazy. It doesn't make any sense."

Grishuk said Monday that Halstead's claims of a romantic relationship were not true.

"It was solely a business and social relationship," she said.

Schroeder, the district attorney spokeswoman, said she was aware of Halstead's claims.

"We know that that's what their claim is, but at this point it's unclear as to whether they had a relationship or not - and frankly, that's just one part of this case," she said.

Schroeder said no charges would be filed against Grishuk.

Grishuk, who won gold medals for Russia in ice dancing in 1994 and 1998, told reporters last month that she has been busy recently filming several seasons of a Russian television show called "Dance on Ice" that's similar to America's "Dancing With the Stars." She said she's also done solo skating shows in Asia and toured Russia with ice shows. She lives part-time in south Orange County.