Less than a week after his image took a major hit, Duane "Dog" Chapman has been thrown a bone.
A federal judge in Hawaii ruled Monday that the beleaguered reality-TV star will not be extradited to Mexico to face still-pending kidnapping charges, seemingly putting an end to nearly four years of legal wrangling over Chapman's capture of a convicted rapist in 2003.
While a Mexican court dismissed a deprivation of liberty charge against Chapman and his Dog the Bounty Hunter costars, son Leland and his non-relative partner Tim Chapman, in July because the statute of limitations had expired, prosecutors vowed to appeal the dismissal and the U.S. Attorney's Office kept the possibility of extradition open.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kunen quashed American authorities' continuing attempts to extradite the trio, however, stating that none of them is currently charged with any offense, despite the appeal.
They spent two weeks in a Mexican jail after collaring Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who had jumped bail and was wanted in California on charges of drugging and raping three women, in June 2003. The cosmetics company scion is currently serving a 124-year prison sentence, and the Chapmans' role in his capture led to their hit A&E reality series—but bounty hunting is illegal south of the border.
After their release from jail they headed north and never looked back, skipping a court date in the process.
Chapman, a Honolulu bail bondsman by trade, put up a $300,000 bond in September 2006 after U.S. marshals arrested him in connection with Luster's capture and his failure to report for court. Federal authorities never ordered Chapman and his partners in crime-cleanup back to Puerto Vallarta but they were also never entirely off the hook.
"I don't think they have any regrets whatsoever in facilitating the capture of Mr. Luster, who is a known and convicted rapist," Chapman's attorney, James Quadra, told reporters Monday. "Though this has been a difficult process, they are proud of what they have done."
What Chapman is regretting, however, is the screw-up that has done what no international kidnapping charge could do—get him kicked off the air.
A&E yanked Dog the Bounty Hunter, its most popular original series, from its schedule on Friday in light of the racially derogatory comments Chapman made during a phone conversation with his apparently ticked-off son, who recorded their chat and turned it over to the National Enquirer.
Chapman immediately apologized for his N-word-laced remarks, stating that he was objecting to the character of his son's girlfriend, whom he referred to as a f-----g n----r, not the fact that she's black.
"My sincerest, heartfelt apologies go out to every person I have offended for my regrettable use of very inappropriate language," he said in a statement. "I am deeply disappointed in myself for speaking out of anger to my son and using such a hateful term in a private phone conversation.
Attorney Brook Hart said at a news conference Monday that, while Chapman and his wife are "very appreciative of the court's ruling," they are by no means celebrating at this time.
"He's very regretful and remorseful," Hart said. "He's committed to making his best efforts not to speak offensively in any context of anyone."
A&E said before pulling his show that it would take "appropriate action" once the ongoing inquiry into Chapman's behavior has concluded.