Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Football players are above the law (in practice)

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You’ll recall this recent post. You’ll also recall the various high-school rapes by one or several members of the football team that police really did not want to investigate. In the NY Times Steve Eder takes a look at how football players who are guilty of domestic abuse are protected (though their wives are not).

Even after sheriff’s deputies arrived at her Weston, Fla., home, Kristen Lennon remained in the bathroom, afraid to leave. Minutes earlier, she had fled there for safety as she called 911, telling the operator that her fiancé had thrown her on the bed and hit her in the face and head. She was two months pregnant.

“Please help,” Ms. Lennon said, her voice shaking. “He’s way bigger than me.” The couple’s first child was nearby in their bedroom.

On the other side of the bathroom door was Phillip Merling, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound defensive end for the Miami Dolphins. When deputies from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office arrived at about 1:30 a.m. on May 27, 2010, they found Ms. Lennon with redness and swelling on her face and a cut on her lip.

What happened next illustrated how relationships between National Football League teams and local law enforcement agencies can lead to special treatment for players.

Minutes after Mr. Merling was taken into custody, Stuart Weinstein, the Dolphins’ longtime security director, was working his contacts in the Sheriff’s Office, trying to confirm the arrest and get information on Mr. Merling’s status. At one point, Mr. Weinstein asked a commander who worked side jobs for the Dolphins to notify him when Mr. Merling’s bond was posted. The commander said he would, according to an internal affairs investigation.

Mr. Merling was booked on charges of aggravated domestic battery on a pregnant woman. Almost all inmates are required to leave the jail through the public front door and arrange their own transportation home, but Mr. Merling was granted an unusual privilege: He was escorted out a rear exit by a deputy, evading reporters. The commander, who was off duty and in uniform, drove Mr. Merling in an unmarked car to the Dolphins’ training complex 20 minutes away.

After Mr. Merling met with team officials, the commander drove him home to get his belongings — even though a judge had ordered Mr. Merling to “stay away” and avoid any potential contact with Ms. Lennon.

N.F.L. teams, which have their own robust security operations, often form close relationships with local law enforcement agencies, say people familiar with the procedures. Teams routinely employ off-duty officers to be uniformed escorts or help with security, paying them, providing perks and covering costs for them to travel to away games. When allegations of crimes such as domestic violence arise, the bond between officers and team security officials can favor the player while leaving the accuser feeling isolated.

In California, for instance, the San Jose Police Department is investigating why one of its officers who worked part time for the San Francisco 49ers was at the home of defensive lineman Ray McDonald around the time of his arrest on domestic violence charges in August. Prosecutors said last week that there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr. McDonald but noted that the officer “was working for the 49ers while being paid by the citizens of San Jose.”

The treatment of players involved in domestic violence cases has become an inflammatory issue for the N.F.L. this fall after

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 November 2014 at 12:02 pm

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