As we previously reported, Amber and Jim Marchese were pulled off a Virgin America flight at LAX for an alleged domestic violence assault. Jim was even arrested. But now, the couple is saying that the whole situation was just a big misunderstanding.
At the time, LAX Police told PEOPLE that Jim “had grabbed [Amber] by the throat and made threats against her.” He was taken into custody and later released on $50,000 bail. Just days later, Amber shared a public statement, saying Jim had not abused her, but rather they had been engaged in some sort of PDA on the plane.
Now the Marcheses are telling the mag that they plan on filing a $100 million lawsuit against Virgin America, saying they never should have been booted from the flight. Officials this week declined to press charges against Jim in the case.
The couple tells the mag that they were tired after working on a new television project in California and reclined their seats on their flight back to New Jersey and made some jokes to one another about joining the Mile High Club.
“Jim put his hand behind my neck and leanED me closer to him. It was hard to hear. So he pulled me closer so he could whisper to me so the other passengers couldn’t hear us,” Amber explained.
Jim says he made a flirtatious comment to his wife, and then the flight attendant came to offer them a drink. He declined, as he was going to catch some sleep, but Amber ordered a glass of wine and put on her headphones to relax during the flight. About 10 minutes later, while the plane was still on the tarmac, Jim says he was awoken by officers.
“My understanding is that flight attendant saw my arm around the back of Amber [during the PDA], and that where the accusation came from,” says Jim. “I don’t know definitely if it was [the flight attendant], but I assume it was her because she’s the only one who could notify the captain and call the police.”
Amber says officers were trying to get her to say that her husband had attacked her.
“[An officer] says, ‘You’re not going anywhere until you’re tell me what happened,’ ” says Amber. “People are watching, it’s embarrassing and humiliating. I’m sitting there and say, ‘Officer, nothing happened.’ He bluntly says, ‘Why don’t you tell me how your husband attacked you.’ ”
Amber and Jim say that when Amber attempted to walk toward her husband, an officer handcuffed her to prevent her from speaking to Jim.
[The officer says], ‘If you tell us how you’re husband choked you, we’ll take the handcuffs off you,’ ” says Amber. “I said, ‘Well then, I guess we’re not going to get the handcuffs off me.’ ”
Jim and Amber say though they were met by LAX officers, there was no medical assistance there, which makes them question if whoever alerted the police truly believed domestic violence had taken place. They did not see the officers question their fellow passengers about the alleged incident or take statements from them.
Jim was eventually taken to jail, and says that he was treated well by the LAPD, who helped Amber navigate the process of arranging her husband’s $50,000 bail. Police took pictures of Amber’s neck for evidence, and later the couple took pictures as well.
Amber and Jim say there were no signs of bruising or injury and the parents of four maintain there has never been an instance of domestic violence in their 10-year marriage.
“There’s never been the police, there’s never been anyone coming to our house for it. There’s never been any issue,” says Jim, with Amber adding, “I am no victim.”
“Cops are whipping guns out and shooting poor kids in the street who didn’t anything,” says Amber. “It’s really scary. I could never imagine a mother who lost their child because they couldn’t keep their guns in their harness.”
Photo Credit: Bravo