Eagles’ Don Henley questioned in court about time a naked 16-year-old girl overdosed at his home

The singer was testifying in an unrelated trial about the sale of hadwritten lyrics

Kevin E G Perry
Tuesday 27 February 2024 02:11 GMT
<p>Don Henley arriving in court in New York</p>

Don Henley arriving in court in New York

Don Henley faced questions in a New York courtroom on Monday about an unpleasant incident from his past: his 1980 arrest after a naked 16-year-old girl suffered an overdose at the Eagles co-founder’s Los Angeles home.

Henley was testifying at an unrelated criminal trial. Three collectibles dealers are charged with conspiring to sell handwritten draft lyrics to “Hotel California” and other Eagles hits without the legal right to do so.

The three men have all pleaded not guilty.

Early on in the trial, a prosecutor asked about the singer and drummer’s November 1980 arrest. The move was apparently a bid to get ahead of defence lawyers, who had indicated that they intended to question the 76-year-old about his memory of the era and his lifestyle at the time.

On Monday, Henley told the court that the girl was a sex worker he had called that night because he “wanted to escape the depression I was in” over the breakup of the high-flying band.

“I wanted to forget about everything that was happening with the band, and I made a poor decision which I regret to this day. I’ve had to live with it for 44 years. I’m still living with it today, in this courtroom. Poor decision,” Henley testified.

Don Henley on stage with the Eagles in Las Vegas in 2019

As he has maintained in previous interviews, Henley testified that he didn’t know the girl’s age until after his arrest and that he went to bed with the girl but never had sex with her.

“I don’t remember the anatomical details, but I know there was no sex,” said Henley, who said they’d done cocaine together and talked for many hours about his band’s breakup and her estrangement from her family.

He said he called firefighters when she showed signs of an overdose. They checked the girl’s health, found her to be OK and left, with him promising to take care of her. The paramedics, who found her in the nude, called police, authorities said at the time.

Henley said on Monday that she recovered and was preparing to leave with a friend she’d had him call when police arrived hours later.

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At the time, authorities said they found cocaine, quaaludes and marijuana at his home in Los Angeles.

Henley pleaded no contest in 1981 to a misdemeanour charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was sentenced to probation and a $2,500 fine, and he requested a drug education program to get some possession charges dismissed.

Henley was asked about the incident on Monday before he gave the court his version of how handwritten pages from the development of the band’s blockbuster 1976 album made their way from his Southern California barn to New York auctions decades later.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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