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Second, even when victims have the courage to report to the police, allegations of domestic violence or sexual assault often go unreported by the media until formal charges are pressed.
For instance, on January 14, 2015, it was reported that Josh Mc Nary, a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, was formally charged with rape, criminal confinement and battery for an incident that took place on December 1, 2014. The original incident and police report were never publicized despite having taken place a month and a half prior to the formal charges—even the Colts indicated that they were unaware of the allegations until the charges were pressed.
As discussed below, domestic violence and sexual assault have distinct complicating factors, including, for domestic violence, an intimate relationship with the perpetrator and related emotional and economic dependencies, and, for sexual assault, the reality that the victim will likely not be believed and can even be blamed for her own assault.[Editors’ Note: This article, which can be downloaded here, will be published in JSEL’s forthcoming issue. Withers’ highly regarded 2010 article on the same subject, The Integrity of the Game: Professional Athletes and Domestic Violence, 1 Harv. As in the late 1990s, the recent media attention on professional athletes and acts of off-field violence was precipitated by a widely publicized act of violence. The NFL’s treatment of domestic violence was selected as the sports story of 2014 in an annual vote conducted by the Associated Press. For the first time since the late 1990s, the media is publicly recognizing the silent story that has laid dormant, overshadowed by the story of fame, glory, athleticism and America’s favorite pastimes.This, despite evidence that Baker suffered a perforated eardrum, lost hearing in that ear for two weeks, sustained a bloody nose, and had marks on her neck and hemorrhaging in her eyes consistent with strangulation. Greg Hardy was convicted of assault on a female and communicating threats, after allegedly beating, strangling and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend, though he appealed the conviction to a jury trial and the charges were ultimately thrown out when the victim could not be reached to testify at the jury trial. While Hardy was awaiting the appeal, he was placed on the Commissioner Exempt List and collected his .1 million salary for the 2014 season, as well as an additional ,000 from the Carolina Panthers’ playoff victory. Jonathan Dwyer’s trial began March 4, 2015—he is facing one felony and eight misdemeanor aggravated assault charges for allegedly assaulting his wife during two separate arguments.Investigators indicate that Dwyer broke his wife’s nose with a head butt, and the next day punched her. . Overall, the lasting message from these past five years is that professional athletes rarely face formal charges, and are almost never convicted, for domestic violence or sexual assault.
The five-year search results based on a review of local and national newspapers are illuminating, not so much because of the total number of allegations, but because of the failure of the criminal justice system, the leagues and the teams to properly investigate and address these allegations.