Kimberly Bell, Barry Bonds’ former mistress testified Monday Called by federal prosecutors to the witness stand in Bonds’ perjury trial that the slugger blamed a 1999 elbow injury on steroid use.
She testified that Bonds responded by saying his steroid use caused the injury, because the muscle and tendons grew too fast for the joint to handle.
She also said that Bonds talked about the widespread use of steroids among baseball players, including his suspicion that Mark McGwire was juicing during his assault on the single-season home run record in 1998—a mark that Bonds later broke. “He mentioned that other players do it and that’s how they got ahead, that’s how they achieved,” Bell testified.
Bell said she and Bonds met on July 3, 1994, and attended a barbecue that day. From there, they shared a nine-year romantic relationship that continued even after Bonds married another woman in 1999. She further testified that Bonds’ sexual performance declined in the later years of their relationship. She said that his testicles changed shape and shrank. Bell also testified that Bonds grew—and shaved—chest hair and developed acne on his back.
A visibly uncomfortable Bell testified that Bonds’ behavior also changed in the later years of their relationship.
“He was increasingly aggressive, irritable, agitated and very impatient,” said Bell, dressed conservatively in a gray jacket and white shirt.
She choked up as she testified that Bonds verbally abused her starting in1999, threatening “to cut my head off and leave me in a ditch.” Bell alleged that Bonds threatened that “he would cut out my breast implants because he paid for them.”
Prosecutors allege that the physical and mental changes Bell told the jury about during the last four years of their relationship are side effects of steroids use.
This was the period when Bonds noticeably bulked up and started posting unprecedented power numbers for the San Francisco Giants. The seven-time NL MVP hit a season-record 73 homers in 2001 en route to a career record 762 by the time of his last season in 2007—months before he was indicted for his grand jury testimony.
In anticipation of defense attempts to portray Bell as a gold digger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Nedrow asked Bell about an interview and photograph shoot she did with Playboy that appeared in 2007. She posed nude and discussed Bonds sexual performance in the magazine.
“I was trying to put my life together,” she testified. “Maybe it wasn’t the best decision.”
Bell testified that Playboy agreed to pay her $100,000, but sent the money to her agent, David Hans Schmidt. Schmidt committed suicide in 2007 while under investigation for allegedly attempting to extort the actor Tom Cruise and Bell said she saw little of the Playboy payment—“about $17,000 or $18,000.”
Under cross examination by Cristina Arguedas—the first time anyone other than Ruby had questioned a witness for Bonds—Bell was questioned about the radio tour she went on to promote her Playboy appearance.
Bell said she appeared on a “few” radio shows, and Arguedas shot back “More than 20?”
It turned out that Bell appeared on about 20 radio shows, including the popular Howard Stern talk show.
Arguedas asked Bell if she cried during any of those appearances, while recounting her Bonds’ relationship. Bell said she got a “little emotional” on occasion.
*some information courtesy of the Associated Press