Hollywood North got a taste of celebrity scandal to kick off 2014 when media and fans descended on Toronto police 52 Division headquarters to catch a glimpse of pop superstar Justin Bieber.
The angel-faced singer surrendered to police in January and was charged with assault in connection with an altercation involving a limo driver the previous month.
It was alleged that a limousine picked up Bieber and his entourage outside a nightclub in the Peter Street and Adelaide Street West area and while driving the group to a hotel, an altercation occurred between one of the passengers and the chauffeur.
It was reported that during the altercation, a man struck him on the back of the head several times.
Despite the allegations, fans remained loyal. At a court appearance in May, about a dozen young women gathered outside the courthouse even though Bieber wasn’t present to show their support and in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Canadian pop sensation.
“I think there are two sides to every story and we didn’t hear Justin Bieber’s side,” KiSS 92.5’s Taylor Kaye explained. “However I think a lot of the fans like that bad boy. It’s just unfortunate that these young girls are thinking that what Justin Bieber is doing is right.”
Although the charge would eventually be dropped, it was just one of many brushes with the law that would push Bieber into the spotlight this year and not for his music.
Ranging from immature antics to serious allegations, Bieber’s actions called many to question if the teen idol was going to the dark side of celebrity.
“It just seemed like he was trying to show that he wasn’t this kid anymore. He was an adult,” 680News music reporter Rudy Blair explained. “But if you don’t have anybody as a role model to show you what being a man is all about, and your role models are guys who are trying to be high rollers, then you’re going down the wrong path.”
Shortly after ringing in the New Year, police raided Bieber’s California home after he was accused of pelting his neighbour’s home with eggs on Jan. 9. The act of vandalism reportedly caused $20,000 in damage.
In the end Bieber pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanour vandalism, had to attend anger management sessions and forked over $80,000 to his neighbour.
A week before his appearance in Toronto, Bieber once again came face to face with police after he was caught drag racing in Miami Beach. He was charged with driving under the influence, driving with an expired licence and resisting arrest without violence. His smiling mug-shot instantly went viral.
“Someone needs to wipe that smirk off his face,” said KiSS 92.5’s Kaye. “We’ve all seen kids like that, like they’ve stolen something from the candy store… we know what you’ve done Justin Bieber. And there are kids that look up to him still.”
The singer later admitted smoking marijuana, drinking and taking a prescription medication, police say.
He would later plead guilty to the lesser charges of careless driving and resisting arrest to avoid the DUI conviction.
“You’re rich, hire a driver,” said Kaye. “If you’re going to drink don’t drive. It’s that simple,”
In June, Bieber publicly apologized after a video surfaced of him telling a racist joke when he was 15.
“I’m very sorry,” Bieber said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I take all my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable behaviour.”
His actions became fodder for late night talk shows and drew criticism from other celebrities, such as actor Seth Rogen, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and actor Orlando Bloom. He was also booed at an L.A. Clippers game.
“He went down the wrong path and it really ruined his reputation,” said 680News’ Blair.
One more altercation occurred north of the border before the year ended.
In August, Bieber’s troubles came back home when he was charged with dangerous driving and assault following a collision between a minivan and an ATV in a rural area northeast of his hometown of Stratford, Ont.
The driver of the ATV and an occupant of the minivan “engaged in a physical altercation,” according to police.
Bieber’s camp pointed the finger at the paparazzi saying the singer and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Selena Gomez were being hounded while trying to enjoy a peaceful retreat.
Despite all the brushes with the law and the lackluster music sales of the past year, Bieber was named Forbes’ highest-earning celebrity under 30.
There’s no word on what 2015 will bring for the Biebs but Blair offered the newly 20-something a bit of advice.
“Go away, reinvent yourself, show that you can be a man, show that you have the ins and outs of the music industry and then come back,” he said.