Donnie Wahlberg Takes a Poke and Chips Another Piece Off the New Kids on the Block Image

updated 09/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/24/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

And in this corner, from Dorchester, Mass., wearing jogging sweats and tennies...Kid Donnie Wahlberg!

Er, make that New Kid Donnie Wahlberg, 21, the latest member of the Boston-based quintet with the Ivory-clean image who seems to have been relying on his mitts instead of his music. As a result, Harvard junior Benjamin Dattner has become the latest nonfan who probably wouldn't mind seeing the band renamed New Kids on the Cellblock.

Dattner, 20, says he was assaulted by Wahlberg during a Sept. 2 plane flight from Salt Lake City to Atlanta. According to Dattner, a Harvard Crimson reporter, Wahlberg strolled back to the coach section from his first-class seat and ordered him to move from his napping perch across three seats. Dattner, returning from a two-week Outward Bound excursion, refused and in the blink of an eye found his right eye blinking—thanks to a two-finger poke from Wahlberg. During the fracas that followed. Wahlberg says he was kicked in the midsection; Dattner claims he was held down and pummeled. A police report was filed after the plane landed in Atlanta, and Dattner is now talking about a possible lawsuit.

Wahlberg is not the only member of the group having problems aging gracefully. On Aug. 3, 17-year-old New Kid Joe McIntyre was involved in a Quincy. Mass., bar argument with a patron, during which some of his companions allegedly chipped two of the victim's teeth and left him in need of seven stitches. Five days later, in an Atlanta nightclub. New Kid Jonathan Knight, 21, was accused of hitting a young woman, and his bodyguard of assaulting two male friends who had come to her defense. That very afternoon Wahlberg had a confrontation with some Georgia Tech students after suffering a near-miss from their Frisbee while he was riding a motorcycle.

"All kids get in fights. We've gotten in fights the last 20 years," says Wahlberg. "The fans know who we are. They know that Donnie Wahlberg would rather not fight, but they also know that Donnie Wahlberg is not going to get walked on."

Barry Rosenthal, the band's lawyer. called the incidents "regrettable" and said "steps have been taken to prevent repetition, which may include altering their public lifestyle." Wahlberg. however, admitted the latest incident "is not something I'm proud of" but wasn't ready to take more than half the blame. Dattner is "as much at fault as me," says Donnie. "He just didn't win."

From Our Partners