Ray McDonald Case Will Test NFL’s New Domestic Violence Policy

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Opinion, Sports

Tagged: , ,

Published on September 04, 2014 with 3 Comments

Ray McDonald, SF 49er defensive end. Photo via Wikipedia.

Ray McDonald, SF 49er defensive end. Photo via Wikipedia.

By Ralph E. Stone

September 4, 2014

I have seen the terrible toll on victims of domestic violence as a volunteer at the Cooperative Restraining Order Clinic (CROC), helping victims of domestic violence obtain restraining orders against their abusers.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and 1.3 million women are victims of assault by an intimate partner each year.  This is simply intolerable.

Research about whether male athletes are more likely than men in general to commit violence against women is inconclusive, but evidence exists that professional athletes are not punished by their leagues, teams or the criminal justice system as harshly or as consistently as members of the general public.  According to “The San Diego Union-Tribune” database of the 32 NFL teams, 21 of them have this year had at least one player who has been charged with domestic violence or sexual assault. (Some were, of course, acquitted.)  It should be noted, however, from CROC’s experience, charges are sometimes withdrawn even when the accused is likely to be guilty.

Consider that women now make up almost half the NFL fan base.  More women watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars.  And the NFL for four years has targeted women to sell them licensed NFL apparel.  That’s why the spotlight should shine on the alleged domestic violence by Ray McDonald, a San Francisco 49er defensive end who was arrested on August 31, 2014, for felony domestic violence against his fiancee, who is 10 weeks pregnant.

The NFL has finally instituted a policy of imposing a six-game suspension for the first offense of domestic violence, and if a second occurs, an indefinite ban on the employee or player.  The McDonald matter may be a test case for this new NFL policy on domestic violence.

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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  1. SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office has declined to file charges against San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald in a felony domestic violence investigation stemming from his Aug. 31 arrest.
    Prosecutors said in a release that they were unable to charge McDonald because of conflicting versions of what happened, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and a significant lack of cooperation by the alleged victim, McDonald’s fiancee.
    The arrest came only days after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced stiffer penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including a six-week suspension for a first offense and at least a year for a second.

  2. On Sept. 9, Supervisor Breed will introduce the attached resolution denouncing the 49ers franchise for allowing Ray McDonald to continue playing during an active investigation for felony domestic violence charges and urging both the 49ers and the NFL to strengthen their policies against domestic violence.

    • Knee-jerk reaction by Supervisor Breed (and others). This should only happen if and when the D.A. files charges. It should not happen before.
      “Prosecutors have again postponed a court hearing involving the San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald. Prosecutors also delayed a scheduled 15 September hearing. Prosecutors say there will be no new court date unless or until any charges are filed.” (the Guardian.com).
      Mr Macdonald may indeed be guilty, but he hasn’t even been charged yet. This should not be an excuse for a witch hunt.