United States: NFL Suspends Player Indefinitely for Domestic Violence
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 8:30 AM

The National Football League (NFL) suspended player Ray Rice indefinitely after a video released last week showed him punching his fiancé in the face and knocking her unconscious in an elevator. Another video released in February showed Rice dragging his fiancé out of the elevator, but did not capture the actual violence that occurred before the doors opened.  Prior to the release of the new video, Rice was serving a two-game suspension for the incident.

The NFL has been heavily criticized for its approach to the Ray Rice case and to several other recent domestic violence incidents involving players, including Greg Hardy. A judge convicted Hardy on domestic violence charges in July, but his team only benched him last week after the details of Hardy’s violent assault on his girlfriend became widely known.

In August, the NFL announced new and more stringent penalties for domestic violence and violent behavior, although many advocates said the penalties were not harsh enough. On September 15, the NFL said it would consult with four experts to craft “policies, resources and outreach on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault." 

Both Rice and his fiancé were arrested for assault related to the elevator incident in a New Jersey casino on February 15, 2014. The fiancé (now Rice’s wife) was eventually cleared of any charges. A New Jersey grand jury indicted Rice on third degree aggravated assault. He pleaded not guilty and was accepted into a diversionary program for one year with no jail time.  

On September 15, the New Jersey state Assembly cited Rice’s actions in passing six bills to enhance legal protections for victims of domestic abuse. The New Jersey Senate will consider the bills next, after the state attorney general’s office completes a review of the Rice case. The New Jersey Senate President stated, “[t]o treat domestic violence basically like a traffic citation is not acceptable.”

Compiled from: McLaughlin, Eliott C. and Martin, Jill, 4 women to consult NFL commissioner on domestic violence, CNN.com (September 16, 2014); Key events in the Ray Rice story, CNN.com (September 16, 2014); Young, Elise, N.J. Passes Domestic-Violence Bills After Rice Assault, Bloomberg News (September 15, 2014); Macur, Juliet, Forget Video; the Facts Are Shocking Enough: Ray Rice Footage Prompts Roger Goodell’s Action, The New York Times (September 8, 2014).