ROCKLAND — Singer-songwriter Don McLean pleaded guilty Thursday to hitting and threatening his wife, from whom he in now divorced, as part of a plea deal.

McLean, 70, of Camden, best known for his 1971 hit song “American Pie,” pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of domestic violence assault, domestic violence criminal threatening, criminal mischief, and criminal restraint in Knox County Unified Court.

If McLean abides by the court agreement for one year, he will pay a $1,000 fine for each count and the domestic violence assault charge will be dismissed. If he has contact with his ex-wife, Patrisha McLean, either directly or indirectly, or if he does not complete a mental health evaluation within 60 days, he could face an open plea and the domestic violence assault charge will remain.

The couple divorced in June.

Patrisha McLean, reading from a prepared statement, told the court there was nothing unusual about what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 18. She described what she endured that night, saying McLean struck and jabbed at her limbs, put his palms on her temples like a vice, and told her he wanted to strangle her.

Following the Jan. 18 ordeal, Patrisha McLean applied for a temporary protection from abuse order against McLean. She said she was terrorized by McLean for four hours, adding that the 911 call she made from her cellphone after locking herself in the bathroom may have saved her life.

She said McLean tried to break down the door, but stopped when she said she was calling the police.

Patrisha McLean said the bail conditions imposed on McLean gave her the space and the time to realize the life she thought she lived as a fairy tale was, in reality, a nightmare.

“Don took away 30 years of my life by controlling every aspect of it through violence and fear of violence. Because he told me over and over again that if I left him he could kill me, divorce has not freed me from living in fear of him,” she said.

She thanked the court for holding McLean accountable for his abuse and said because of the defendant’s money and fame, he likely expected to not face consequences.

Walter McKee, McLean’s attorney, said that his client categorically denies every statement made by the victim. In an email after the hearing, McKee said the Patrisha McLean’s statements are patently and provably false, and designed for her own publicity.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said the victim feels the resolution of the case is a reasonable outcome. The prosecutor said the case was handled as any other domestic violence case would have been.

Justice William Stokes commended both attorneys for their work, saying it was a difficult case, and echoed Fernald’s statement that McLean’s fame did not play a role in the case.

“Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. That is the beauty of our country,” Stokes said.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or at:

[email protected]