DALLAS, Oregon — A massively famous celebrity meets a young homeless man in Hollywood and introduces him to an audience of millions. Then, just when it looks like the man is going to triumph, his dark past comes back to haunt him.
As in any Hollywood script, there are two possible endings: The young man can overcome his past, or he can never escape it.
For 45 minutes Tuesday, it appeared Jesse Helt was choosing an unhappy ending.
The young homeless man who accompanied Miley Cyrus to the MTV Video Music Awards arrived 45 minutes late for his arraignment Tuesday on a charge that he violated his probation in Oregon.
Polk County Judge Monte Campbell was ready to wrap up his court hearings for the day, and likely issue an arrest warrant for Helt, when Helt’s lawyer announced that he received a text message: His client had arrived.
Helt, 22, gained worldwide attention last month when Cyrus let him accept her award for video of the year, to help raise awareness for youth homelessness. Reporters eager to learn the story behind the sudden celebrity discovered that Helt was wanted in his home state for a probation violation stemming from a 2010 arrest.
Days after his moment in the sun, Helt returned to this farming community to surrender.
At Tuesday’s court appearance, Campbell called Helt’s name and was told that he hadn’t checked in.
Ron Hoevet, Helt’s defense attorney, told the judge that his client was homeless and having trouble arranging transportation to the courthouse.
Hoevet, a Portland-based lawyer hired by Cyrus’s team, left the courtroom and called Helt.
“You’d better get here,” Hoevet said on the phone, warning Helt that he’d be arrested if he didn’t show.
After listening to his client’s end of the conversation, Hoevet said: “You’ve messed up again, Jesse.”
He informed Helt that the judge agreed to move the case to the end of the docket, so he still had time to make it.
“If you get here, it’s going to be OK.”
Twenty minutes later, Helt phoned Hoevet, who boomed: “Where are you, Jesse?” as he left the courtroom to talk.
Finally, when all the other cases were done, the judge returned to the Helt case for a third time. Just when it seemed Helt was a no-show, Hoevet announced that his client was downstairs and he was going to get him.
The hearing lasted only about a minute. Campbell reminded Helt that court started 45 minutes earlier and told him to “bring a toothbrush” if he’s one second late for his next hearing Oct. 7.
Helt said he understood. He did not enter a plea and declined to comment outside the courtroom. He extended a middle finger to the media as he was driven away from the courthouse.
Court records show Helt pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief and criminal trespass several years ago after breaking into the apartment of a man he believed to be selling bad marijuana. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and probation.
The arrest warrant was issued in November 2011 after authorities say he violated probation.
Helt moved to Los Angeles, enduring stints of homelessness while trying to find work as a model. He met Cyrus through the Hollywood homeless center My Friend’s Place.