Josh Brown TV Interview A Reminder of NFL’s Domestic Violence Problem

Just in time for Super Bowl LI comes yet another chapter in the ongoing story of the NFL’s domestic violence problem. Former Giants star Josh Brown  drew headlines this week after he publicly admitted domestic violence. The admission came during an emotional interview February 2 with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Sports pundits are describing the interview as Brown’s effort to revive his professional football career; the Giants dropped him in October after he admitted the abuse to the team. The NFL had earlier suspended Brown for one game for the spring 2015 incident. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault in the fourth degree after Molly Brown, now his ex-wife, said he grabbed her wrist during an argument. Charges were never filed, according to numerous media accounts of the case.

The public apology has become a staple in celebrity efforts to repair their reputations and careers. And the he said-she said nature of the incident is, sadly, familiar. The Brown situation, like all domestic violence cases, does have its own nuances. Central to the ABC interview were Brown’s journal entries, in which he wrote that he had “been physically, emotionally and verbally” abusive toward Molly Brown. The journals became public as part of the investigation.

Here’s some of what he said on “Good Morning America:”

I mean, I had put my hands on her. I kicked the chair. I held her down. The holding down was the worst moment in our marriage. I never hit her. I never slapped her. I never choked her. I never did those types of things.

Later, he concedes that, “What I did was wrong. Period.” He goes on to say that domestic violence is not just physical abuse: “We’re talking intimidation and threats, the attempt to control, body language.”

Despite talking the talk about domestic violence, he drew a distinction between abuse and, well, actually hitting his wife. He still draws a distinction between his actions and, you know, real abusers. “The world now thinks I beat my wife,” he said in the television interview. “I have never hit this woman. I never hit her. Not once.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Brown’s case is still open. We’ll see how the NFL applies its personal conduct policy, revised in 2014, after Ray Rice was caught on camera punching his then-fiancée in an elevator. Brown told ABC he’s hopeful he can play pro football again.

Super Bowl weekend, with more than 100 million people likely to watch the contest between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, is a good time for the NFL to make it clear they plan to hold players accountable.

[ed: Interesting note on the body language in this interview. Brown shakes his head “no,” while saying “yes.”  A common non-verbal indicating a dishonest response.]

Even “Really Special People” Can Hurt Their Partners

The famous singer-songwriter Don McLean has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. Mclean, best known for his 1971 song Don McLean“American Pie,” made the plea in response to a Jan. 18 incident in which Camden, Maine, police responded to an early morning telephone call from McLean’s wife seeking help.

Patrisha McLean said that her husband has physically and verbally abused her for three decades and has “a violent temper,” according to the Rockland District Court order obtained by ABC News.

“For the first 10 years or so his rage was unfathomably deep and very scary,” she wrote in a statement attached to the protection order, ABC reported. “On Jan. 17, Don terrorized me for 4 hours until the 911 call that I think might have saved my life.”

During the incident, Patrisha wrote that her husband “pressed the palms of his hands against my temples and squeezed as though my head were in a vice.” She says that she has suffered from headaches since the incident.

She requested an order of protection. But the order was later dismissed, and the couple reported through their lawyer they had “agreed to go forward.”

McLean defended himself on Twitter. “This last year and especially now have been hard emotional times for my wife my children and me. What is occurring is the very painful breakdown of an almost 30 year relationship,” he tweeted. “Our hearts are broken and we must carry on. There are no winners or losers but I am not a villain.”

After McLean’s arrest became public, Francis Marion University in South Carolina canceled an April 2 fundraising gala and concert featuring the performer. American singer-songwriter Don McLean. “We support gender equity issues and all the provisions of Title IX,” a university official said in explaining the cancellation.

“The entire town was shocked” by McLean’s arrest, a town of Camden Select Board member told the Associated Press. “They are both really special people,” the local official said. “He’s done wonderful things for the community.”

It is shocking to learn these accusations about a singer many feel we know because his songs have been part of our life’s soundtrack. But here’s the thing – even “really special people” are capable of doing really bad things. The arrest of celebrities reminds us of that. In this case at least, unlike some we’ve cited involving domestic violence charges against NFL players, McLean’s alleged actions have cost him a concert. We’ll see if future gigs are canceled.

Of course, we don’t know all the details, and people are innocent until proven guilty. But Patrisha’s chilling words in her written statement ring true, and they suggest a pattern of abuse. If so, odds are that the Jan. 18 incident won’t be the last.

NFL Fumbles Again  — This Time On Greg Hardy Case

Another pro football season, another horrific domestic violence case involving an NFL player.

Last year it was Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. This year it’s the aftermath of the Greg Hardy case.

According to a harrowing account by the sports news and commentary website Deadspin, Hardy’s then gNFL-Footballirlfriend, Nicole Holder ran from Hardy’s Charlotte, N.C., apartment in 2014 minutes after “he had, she said, thrown her against a tile bathtub wall, tossed her on a futon covered in assault rifles, and choked her until she told him to ‘kill me so I don’t have to.’”

When a police officer ordered her to stop and asked why she was crying, she gave this heartbreaking response: “It doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to happen to him anyways.” As Deadspin noted, she was, unfortunately, right:

Last year, Hardy was convicted of assault in a bench trial, but the charges were dismissed on appeal and, it was reported yesterday, expunged. He missed more than a season of football, but went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he’s become a bigger star than ever despite (or perhaps because of) a series of incidents ranging from making sexist comments in a press conference to going after a coach on the sidelines. Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ billionaire owner, calls him a “real leader” who has the respect of all his teammates and inspires America’s Team.

Once again, a professional athlete – a highly paid celebrity who makes his living from an arguably violent sport – was not held accountable for a vicious attack on his intimate partner. Accountability for the offender is key to our work at Big Mountain Data. If the big guys – celebrities, athletes, wealthy men, cops – aren’t held accountable, it’s unlikely that the Average Joe taking out his aggressions on the woman he supposedly loves will ever pay the price for his unacceptable behavior.

Holder accepted a settlement from Hardy, which means she’s no longer talking about the case. Still, the Hardy case echoes patterns we’ve heard before:

  •             The abuse escalated over time.
  •             Weapons were in the home where the abuse occurred.
  •             The victim underplayed the abuse, saying she “fell down the stairs.”
  •             The victim told police she had not reported previous abuse because she feared the perpetrator.
  •             The perpetrator claims HE is the victim, although photo evidence from the police clearly disputes that.
  •             On the opening day the trial, a judge threw out the case when the accuser stopped cooperating with prosecutors.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has faced criticism for signing and supporting Hardy. In response to Deadspin’s account of the Hardy case, SI.com’s Doug Farrar called on the NFL to take action on domestic violence. NFL leaders had seen the police photos of the Hardy case before Deadspin published them, he noted.

“The NFL needs to come out and say, ‘we have screwed this up royally,’” Farrar said. “The NFL has to do something real, not an empty statement from the leader, but something real.”

Here’s a thought: How about no longer enabling players who beat up women? Stop fumbling your response to domestic violence.

 

NCAA Teams’ Wait and See Approach to Domestic Violence Unsurprisingly Ineffective

After Rutgers’ close loss to Washington State on September 12, Rutgers’ leading receiver Leonte Carroo slammed a woman onto the concrete. The victim sustained injuries to her hip, both her palms, and the left side of her head. As stated in the complaint filed in municipal court, the 20-year-old victim and Carroo previously dated. According to the victim in a phone interview with The Record, she remembers being picked up and dropped and “going high in the air.” She also expressed concern about backlash from the football player’s many supporters, adding, “I hope they don’t blame it [the suspension] on me.”

Carroo, a 2014 Big 10 Selection who recently opted out of the NFL draft, has pled not guilty to a domestic-violence related charge and is out on $1000 bail. One of seven players arrested in the last month for various charges including home invasion and assault, Carroo has been suspended indefinitely from the team.

Coincidentally, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood was also suspended the following week for three games and fined $50,000 after a university investigation found that he inappropriately communicated with a player’s instructor in regard to an academic issue. Yet, despite the recent criminal and unethical behavior,  Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann says the program still has her unwavering support. “I can tell you from my personal interactions that this locker room is filled with the type of leaders and quality young men that will continue to serve as exemplary ambassadors for the university,” she said in a September 14 statement.

Rutgers’ player Leonte Carroo (Photo: Ed Mulholland, USA TODAY Sports)

Of course, the events at Rutgers didn’t happen in a vacuum. In May, Louisiana State University (LSU) reserve offensive lineman Jevonte Domond was arrested on a felony charge of battery and domestic abuse, including strangulation. Initially suspended and with charges still pending, Domond is back on the team without having missed so much as a practice. “We’re letting the disposition of whatever entanglement he’s involved in run its course. He’s not suspended,” said head football coach Les Miles speaking to media after the start of fall training camp. 

Unfortunately, LSU is not the only university utilizing a  “wait and see” approach.

Just last month Baylor University defensive end Sam Ukwuachu was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault. Ukwuachu, a freshman All-American, transferred to Baylor in 2013 following dismissal from the Boise State football team for erratic behavior and a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. According to officials at Boise State, they were unaware of reports of violence committed by Ukwuachu against his girlfriend at the time and his dismissal was unrelated.

In the face of Ukwuachu’s indictment for sexual assault against a different woman while at Baylor, Baylor did acknowledge he had “some issues.” After sitting out in 2014 for unknown reasons (despite being eligible to play), he was expected to be on the field for the 2015 season. However, following Ukwuachu’s conviction for second-degree sexual assault, he was sentenced to six months in jail, 10 years of felony probation, and 400 hours of community service.

 

It’s Outrageous That Ray Rice’s Domestic Violence Charges Dropped

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife Janay during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife Janay during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Remember your outrage at news that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his fiancée unconscious? Remember being outraged that the NFL commissioner suspended Rice for just two games before he (supposedly only then) saw the video of the violent incident and indefinitely suspended Rice? Prepare to be outraged again: A New Jersey judge last week dismissed domestic violence charges Rice because he had completed the terms of his pretrial intervention.

Under terms of the program, Rice paid $125 in fines and received anger management counseling, AP reported. The intervention program is seen as a key tool as the state tries to keep low-level suspects out of jail, the news outlet wrote. Only 70 of the more than 15,000 domestic violence assault cases adjudicated from 2010 to 2013 in New Jersey’s Superior Court were admitted into the pretrial intervention program, the AP reported. According to New Jersey guidelines, offenders who commit violent crimes should “generally be rejected” from the program.

Cue the outrage.

Why is Rice considered a low-level suspect? The incident made public was clearly violent, no matter how many times Rice and his lawyer call it “a misunderstanding.” When high-profile celebrities and athletes are not held accountable, it sends a message that they are above the law. Authorities here missed a chance to show their intolerance for domestic violence.

The outcome of the Rice case, unfortunately, is all too common. Of the 15,029 people charged in New Jersey with assault in domestic violence cases from 2010 to 2013, 8,203 had their cases dismissed or downgraded to a lower court, according to the data provided by the state judiciary, AP reported. Nearly 3,100 pleaded guilty, 13 were found guilty at trial and nine were found not guilty.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) called the intervention program for Rice inappropriate. “Given the severity of Mr. Rice’s violence and the charges filed against him, it is concerning that this program was ever presented, and accepted as an option,” the statement said.

“This is an example of why victims don’t come forward, why they do not feel safe, and why we still can’t trust systems to hold perpetrators accountable,” NCADV Executive Director Ruth Glenn said in a statement.

Mayweather Hype Highlights Lack Of Accountability For Abusers

Beyond the high-stakes hype for the recent Floyd Mayweather/ Manny Pacquiao boxing match, another conversation was taking place. If you watch the fight, wrote Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi, “You are putting money into the pocket of Mayweather — a man who is one of the most despicable domestic abusers in the history of sports.”

mMayweather’s record is well documented: He’s been accused of assaulting five women in at least seven different incidents. In 2012, Mayweather was sentenced to three months in jail for attacking his former girlfriend, ; two of their children witnessed the assault.

“He grabbed me by the hair and threw me on the ground and started punching me on my head with his fist and twisting my arm back and telling me he is going to kill me and the person that I am with,” she said in a police report USA Today published last year.

Mayweather denies he hurt Harris. Where’s the proof? he asks.

Before the Mayweather/Pacquiao match, Grantland published an artful piece that attempted to explain  Mayweather’s mix of athletic prowess and apparent violence against women. “The more I watched Mayweather fight, and the more I read about his allegedly violent acts outside the ring, the more I began to see it as all of one piece,” Louisa Thomas wrote. “The circus that follows him. The bag filled with cash and gambling slips. The entourage. The houses and the women installed in them, the diamond rings as collars. The way he takes the measure of a situation in the ring, determining when it’s safe to punch and when to duck.”

Ahead of the fight, advocates took to social media to point out the contradiction of Mayweather benefiting from the match. Hashtags #MoneyWhereMyMouthIs, #BoycottMayweather and #nomaypac and urged people to donate the $99.99 cost of the pay-per-view fight to an anti-domestic violence organization. (Mayweather took home $130 million for his victory.)

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported an 80 percent increase in the number of donations the week before the fight. “People are frustrated that someone of Mayweather’s stature gets a pass,” said Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Mayweather is making millions off a fight when we are struggling to provide assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence.”

Raising money to help survivors is great. Holding abusers accountable, no matter how rich and famous, would be even better.