tampabay.com

A case of mistaken identity, she says

Jessica Sierra tells the victim of her cocktail glass toss that she thought he was someone else.

By ABBIE VANSICKLE
Published May 1, 2007


TAMPA - Wisam M. Hadad didn't expect drama when he stopped by Hyde Park Cafe early Sunday to pick up a friend.

He said he doesn't drink, doesn't party and was there only a few minutes when a blond, intoxicated-looking woman grabbed him by the collar of his polo shirt and launched a cocktail glass at his head.

Police say his assailant was Jessica Sierra, a 21-year-old former American Idol contestant who grew up in Tampa.

Hadad said Sierra mistook him for someone else and apologized before she was handcuffed and taken away in a squad car. He said he doesn't watch American Idol and found the whole situation bizarre.

"It's just ridiculous that it happened, " Hadad said. "I was mistaken for someone else. I don't even know her. She was saying, 'I'm sorry that I hit you. I thought you were somebody else.' "

Sierra was released from the Hillsborough County jail Sunday after posting $11, 500 bail. She faces charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a detention facility, jail records show.

Sierra told police she threw the cocktail glass at Hadad because he spit in her face. She told police she wanted him to go to jail if she was going to jail. Later, she told police she couldn't be sure Hadad spit at her.

Inside the patrol car, Sierra acted up, police said.

"She was warned she would be placed in leg restraints if she kicked at my rear door window one more time, " wrote Officer Sven R. Finan.

Hadad, 28, owns Florida Merchant Solutions, a credit card processing business.

The gash in his forehead required five stitches, he said. On Monday, he said he still felt dizzy from the wound. He said he dislikes all the attention he's getting from the incident.

"I'm not this kind of guy who wants to be famous, " he said. "I'm a married man who was there by accident and got hit by accident. This is ridiculous for me. I don't understand. Why me?"

In 2005, Sierra finished in 10th place on American Idol.

The Tampa native started singing in church when she was 3. Her mother died, and Sierra was raised by her grandparents and father.

Sierra's family declined to speak with reporters Monday.

Sierra, who has no previous arrests in Florida, could not be reached for comment.

Her Nashville publicist, Nancy Eckert, referred a reporter to a statement issued by Sierra's attorney, John M. Fitzgibbons.

Fitzgibbons, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer, has represented high-profile local clients.

"We would be appreciative if everyone would respect Jessica's privacy during the pendency of the criminal case, " he wrote.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or vansickle@sptimes.com.