Two portraits of Donald A. Alessi Jr. emerged Friday, one day after the well-known exercise guru was charged by state police with spiking an energy drink with a date-rape drug and giving it to a college intern working at his family’s Clarence fitness center.
Those close to him say Alessi, 44, of Orchard Park, would never endanger a young woman.
Alessi resigned from Alessi Personal Fitness on Transit Road – the business he and his brother started two decades ago – when the allegations first surfaced in April 2012 to avoid putting the business at risk.
“He is an incredibly talented young man who would never do something like this. There would be no reason for him to compromise a young lady,” a spokesman for the business said.
The other and more troubling view includes a date-rape drug and criminal charges.
State police said solid evidence supports felony charges of second-degree assault and facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance.
“We took our time and did a very thorough investigation, and once we had the sufficient evidence to make the arrest, we did so,” said Lt. Kurt Schmitt of the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The evidence includes laboratory results that show the woman was given a disabling drug, authorities said. Alessi is accused of adding GHB, short for gamma hydroxybutyric acid, into the energy drink to act as “an intoxicant or as a date rape drug,” according to the charges.
Buffalo defense attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr., who is representing Alessi, said there are no allegations his client carried out any sexual activity against the woman.
“There is no claim of touching inappropriate areas or performing any lewd act that I am aware of. The claim is simply that an energy drink was consumed and the allegation is that there is something in it that should not have been,” Cambria said. “Mr. Alessi vehemently denies that.”
State police said giving another person a drug without his or her consent is a form of assault.
Schmitt said the charge of facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance would not have been lodged if investigators had not found “a sexual component” in the crime.
State police found Alessi with GHB during a traffic stop last year.
On the night of April 26, 2012, a state trooper from the Boston Station stopped a vehicle driven by Alessi on Southwestern Boulevard in Orchard Park after observing an unsafe lane change. Further investigation by the trooper and an Orchard Park police officer determined Alessi appeared to be allegedly driving under the influence of drugs.
Police then found he had GHB and charged him with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and driving while ability impaired. The outcome of those charges could not be determined late Friday.
At Alessi Personal Fitness, on the 6200 block of Transit Road, the facility’s spokesman confirmed Alessi had some minor charges involving a traffic incident but said he has never been arrested for doing anything against other individuals.
Customers and others have reached out to the family after learning of the charges in media reports, the spokesman for the business said.
“Our phone has been ringing off the hook all day. People have been very supportive. It’s gratifying to know people care,” he said.
Alessi, released on his own recognizance, is scheduled to return to Clarence Town Court on Aug. 1.