Were 49ers Vindicated By Ray McDonald’s Dropped Charges?
The howls to suspend the 49ers' Ray McDonald were heard loud and clear over the past two months. While Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and others were summarily thrown into the NFL Phantom Zone by their respective teams following domestic abuse-related allegations, the 49ers took a wait-and-see approach with McDonald, preferring to wait until charges were filed after his Aug. 31 arrest for alleged domestic violence involving his pregnant fiance.
Those charges never came. Following an investigation by the San Jose Police Dept., Santa Clara County prosecutors said on Tuesday that they had insufficient evidence to charge McDonald. San Francisco Chronicle:
District Attorney Jeff Rosen declined to file charges.
“Conflicting versions of the incident, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses, and a significant lack of cooperation by Jane Doe (McDonald’s fiancée) left investigators uncertain exactly what happened,” Rosen’s office said in a news release.
“All domestic violence complaints deserve our concern, sensitivity and careful review,” Rosen said. “After our thorough review of all the facts, we do not have evidence sufficient to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. McDonald committed a crime against Jane Doe.”
Complicating the issue was the fact that an off-duty San Jose police officer was already on the scene when San Jose police first arrived at McDonald's home. McDonald was celebrating his 30th birthday with friends. Some have said that the 49ers were privy to the details from the beginning, and were confident that no charges would be filed -- thus their reluctance to suspend McDonald.
The 49ers claimed to have enough evidence to convince them to stand by McDonald even after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the penalty for domestic violence incidents would be dramatically stiffened.
"We've handled it the way we felt was best and stated it from the beginning — how we were going to handle it and then have had the patience to carry it out," head coach Jim Harbaugh said recently, while the investigation was ongoing, according to USA Today.
McDonald, of course, was playing the whole time that his case was in limbo, and that did not sit well with some observers. But the 49ers may have proven that each circumstance is different, and if we throw every suspected domestic abuser into the jail of public opinion before they are actually charged with a crime, well, that's not very fair.
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