A Vietnamese man assaulted by Mark Wahlberg has said he is happy for the actor to receive a pardon – because “everyone deserves another chance”.
Johnny Trinh was punched in the face by the then 16-year-old Wahlberg in 1988. The actor and producer carried out the attack while trying to avoid police. He had already hit another Vietnamese man in the head with a wooden stick while trying to steal two cases of alcohol in front of a convenience store near his family's home in the Dorchester section of Boston.
Speaking to the Mail Online, Trinh, who said he had not been aware of Wahlberg’s subsequent success, said: “He was young and reckless but I forgive him now. Everyone deserves another chance.
“I would like to see him get a pardon. He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer.
“He paid for his crime when he went to prison. I am not saying that it did not hurt when he punched me in the face, but it was a long time ago.
“He has grown up now. I am sure he has his own family and is a responsible man.”
Trinh also revealed that he was not in fact left blind in one eye by the attack, saying that particular injury was received fighting in the Vietnam War.
Wahlberg is currently seeking a pardon in Massachusetts. In a document filed on 26 November he admits that he was high on marijuana and narcotics at the time of the assaults.
He ended up being convicted as an adult of assault and other charges, and he was sentenced to three months in jail. He said he was released after serving about 45 days.
However, the actor has been criticised for seeking what has been referred to as a “white privilege” pardon at a time when protests continue to rage across the US against alleged police brutality against minorities.
On Wednesday at the New York premiere of his new movie, The Gambler, Wahlberg said: “Everyone has an opinion and has a reason why they think I'm doing it.
“I've been working very hard to correct a lot of mistakes that I made since the day that I woke up and realised, 'You know what? I need to be a leader instead of a follower.”
“In no way shape or form was I trying to use my celebrity or success to say, 'Well, I feel entitled to get this because of the fame and fortune.”'
He cited his charity work as proof of his changed character: “I've worked really hard to be a positive influence for kids growing up in communities like mine who don't really have a chance, and try to provide an opportunity for them to be more successful and that's why I'm doing it.”
He added: “And it's not like the story hasn't been talked about. I've been talking about it for 25 years. You read any piece that's ever been done on me it's really the same old kind of story and for me to kind of be able to move on from that and move forward and continue to show kids that anything's possible.”
The Massachusetts Parole Board would have to review Wahlberg's case and make a recommendation to the governor, who can grant pardons.
Pardons rarely are issued in Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick has not approved one in his nearly two terms in office. Nor did former Gov. Mitt Romney.
Wahlberg said his commitment to being a good person and role model stands, no matter the outcome.
“I will continue to do that whether the pardon is granted or not,” he said.
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content