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.

 

New Jersey Domestic Violence Registry Bill Moves Forward

New Jersey is a step closer to creating the United States’ first statewide Internet registry for domestic violence offenders. The state’s Assembly Women and Children Committee June 18 approved New Jersey Assembly Bill A-2539, also known as Misty’s Law. The registry would be similar to the sex offender registry. Individuals would be able to research potential partners and learn about any history of domestic violence. It would also allow survivors of domestic violence to track their abuser’s location.

“A few clicks of the mouse could help prevent someone from falling into an abusive relationship,” Democratic Assemblywoman Carmelo G. Garcia said in a press release on PolitickerNJ.com. “This could prove an invaluable tool, especially given how hard it often is for victims to extricate themselves from this type of relationship.”

The law would allow any member of the public to view records that include: the defendant’s name and any aliases; any aggravated assault offense involving domestic violence for which the defendant was convicted; the date and location of disposition; a brief description of any such offense, a general description of the defendant’s modus operandi; the defendant’s age, race, sex, date of birth, height, weight, hair, eye color and any distinguishing scars or tattoos; a photograph of the defendant and the date on which the photograph was entered into the registry; the make, model, color, year and license plate number of any vehicle operated by the defendant; and the street address, zip code, municipality and county in which the defendant resides.

Misty Ramos

Misty Ramos was murdered by her boyfriend in 2012.

The bill is named after Misty Ramos. She was strangled to death in June 2012 by her former boyfriend, Noel Irizarry, at her home. Irizarry was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her death. Misty Ramos’ brother, Kell Ramos is president of  Domestic Violence Action Group USA, which supports the bill. After Izarry’s arrest, Ramos learned that his slain sister’s boyfriend spent 10 years in prison for slashing the throat of his ex-girlfriend, NJ.com reported. Ramos is a documentary maker working on a film about the issue.

The group will focus on men, Ramos told NJ.com. “We need men to be part of the solution,” Ramos told the news outlet. “Focusing on the woman is needed, but what happens to the next generation? The same cycle repeats itself. There’s going to be more men doing the same thing. How do you stop that? Other men have to hold men accountable to their actions.”

 

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.

Electronic Monitoring Setback in New Jersey

A new report released by the office of the New Jersey’s Acting State Attorney  delivered a blow to domestic violence advocates in favor of statewide electronic monitoring for repeat offenders.

N.J. Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D – Mount Laurel) took umbrage with the report’s findings and questioned the voracity of its analysis and investigation.  New Jersey advocates have been lobbying to enact electronic monitoring by passing “Lisa’s Law,” a bill that was crafted following the death of Letizia “Lisa” Zindell of Toms River who was murdered by her ex-fiancé in violation of a restraining order.

Singleton’s remarks were made available via video press release.

Singleton, Advocates Call for Renewed Action on ‘Lisa’s Law’ at Start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.