The National Football League has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons – namely, it’s handling of incidences of domestic violence involving NFL players. The most notable case is that of Ray Rice, a former running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Rice was suspended for two games in July after a video was released showing him dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator and the two admitted to mutual violence. Rice was arrested, but not convicted, as the prosecutor allowed him to enter a pre-trial counseling program.
In surveillance video released in early September, Rice is punching his fiancé (now wife), knocking her unconscious, and then dragging her lifeless body out of the elevator. Rice was promptly released from the Ravens and, shortly thereafter, was indefinitely suspended from the NFL. According to the most recent news reports, he now plans to appeal his suspension. Ray Rice expected to appeal indefinite suspension from NFL, espn.com, September 15, 2014.
There are many opinions out there about the length of the suspension, whether the NFL had previously seen the violent video, and why Rice’s now-wife chose to marry him and continue to vocally support him after this incident. But let’s be clear on one thing – this was domestic violence. In Georgia, domestic/family violence is defined as any felony, battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, striking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint or criminal trespass committed between past or present spouses, parents of the same children, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household. O.C.G.A. § 19-13-1. Rice and his fiancé had a child together and were reportedly living together at the time of the incident, which, after viewing the video, can clearly be classified as a battery. In this situation, it’s unfortunate that the prosecutor cannot go back and take the pre-trial counseling off the table and attempt to give Rice a punishment more in line with the crime.