When pro athletes are accused of abuse, how often does punishment follow?

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Nashville Predators Austin Watson appears in the Williamson County General Sessions Court with his attorney Mark Puryear III Tuesday, July 24, 2018, in Franklin, Tenn. Watson is accused of a misdemeanor domestic assault charge.(Photo: Mark Zaleski/ For the Tennessean)Buy Photo

When the NHL suspended Predators forward Austin Watson for domestic abuse last week, the punishment came without much precedent.

Watson, who pleaded no contest to charges in July for an incident involving his girlfriend outside a Shell gas station in Franklin in June, will miss the preseason and first 27 games of the regular season after he pleaded no contest to domestic assault charges.

The NHL is the only of the four major sports without a formal policy addressing domestic abuse, sexual assault and child abuse.

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Joe Rexrode and Paul Skribina discuss the Nashville Predators press conference following the NHL’s 27-game suspension of Austin Watson.
Nashville Tennessean

Not until after former NFL player Ray Rice was captured on tape dragging an unconscious woman who is now his wife off a hotel elevator in February 2014 did any of the four major leagues have a formal policy. 

In the following years, Major League Baseball and the NBA also put into place policies addressing domestic, sexual and child abuse. All offer therapy, counseling and allow leagues to independently investigate incidents.

Janay Rice sits by as her husband, then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks to the media during a news conference. In 2014, the football player knocked his then-fiancee unconscious in an Atlantic City elevator. (Photo: AP)

Pitcher Jose Torres is serving a 100-game suspension, the longest formal suspension given by any of the four leagues. Running back Adrian Peterson missed the final 15 games of the 2014 NFL season after his arrest for child abuse.

Here’s a look at many of the players who faced charges and/or were suspended for domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse during the last five years.

Cases such as that of the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, who was investigated for allegations of raping a woman in 2015 but was neither charged with a crime nor suspended by the NHL, do not appear on this list.

MLB

The league instituted its domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy in 2015. Since it began, eight players have been suspended under the policy.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds

Aroldis Chapman, formerly of the Cubs, now with the New York Yankees (Photo: Frank Franklin II / File / AP)

Background: In October 2015, the All-Star relief pitcher allegedly choked his girlfriend and fired eight shots into the wall of his garage.

Legal result: Charges dropped because of lack of evidence.

MLB punishment: Suspended for 30 games.

Status: Went on to help Cubs win World Series in 2016; pitching for Yankees.

Jose Reyes, Rockies

Background: Arrested in October 2015 at a hotel in Hawaii, where he allegedly choked his wife and pushed her into a glass door.

Legal result: Charges dropped when wife didn’t cooperate with prosecutors.

MLB punishment: Suspended for 51 games.

Status: Playing for Mets.

Hector Olivera, Braves

Background: Arrested April 13, 2016, and charged with misdemeanor assault of a female acquaintance at the team hotel in Virginia.

Legal result: Found guilty; sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 80 suspended.

MLB punishment: Suspended for 82 games.

Status: Out of baseball.

Jeurys Familia, Mets

Background: All-star closer was arrested, charged with domestic abuse on his wife in November 2015.

Legal result: Charge dismissed for lack of evidence.

MLB punishment: Suspended for 15 games.

Status: Playing for A’s.

Derek Norris, free agent

Background: All-Star catcher was released by the Rays shortly after former fiancee accused him of physically (choking) and verbally assaulting her in 2015.

Legal result: Wasn’t formally charged.

MLB punishment: Suspended Sept. 1, 2017 for remainder of season.

Status: Signed by the Tigers in December 2017 but was released in March 2018. 

Steven Wright, Red Sox

Background: Arrested at his suburban Nashville home in December 2017 and charged with domestic violence against his wife.

Legal result: Charges retired by Williamson County Court. 

MLB punishment: Suspended 15 games.

Status: Playing for Red Sox.

Jose Torres, Padres

Background: Arrested in December 2017 at his home in Phoenix and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage and making threats pointing a handgun at his wife, knocking down a door and punching another. 

Legal result: Unknown.

MLB punishment: Suspended 100 games.

Status: On baseball’s restricted list.

Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays

Background: All-Star pitcher was arrested in Toronto in May on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend.

Legal result: Case ongoing.

MLB punishment: Suspended for 75 games.

Status: Traded to Astros while suspended. Had appeared in 19 games through Monday.

NHL

The NHL doesn’t have a formal domestic violence policy and handles issues on a case-by-case basis.

Austin Watson, Predators

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Background: Pleaded no contest to domestic battery of his girlfriend, mother of their child, this summer after he allegedly swatted her outside a gas station in Tennessee in June.

Legal result: Pleaded no contest in July; sentenced to three months’ probation, 26-week batterers’ intervention course, inpatient treatment for drugs and alcohol.

NHL punishment: Suspended for preseason, first 27 games of regular season.

Status: Suspension to be appealed by NHL Players’ Association; eligible to return Dec. 3, if suspension upheld.

Slava Voynov, Kings

What: Pleaded no contest to corporal injury to a spouse in 2015 after he was arrested and accused of punching his wife in the jaw, choking her, kicking her and shoving her into a TV, causing a gash in her head that required eight stitches in October 2014.

Legal result: Sentenced to three years’ probation, community service and spent two months in jail. Granted a dismissal of his conviction after completing his sentence.

NHL punishment: Indefinite suspension.

Status: Hasn’t played in the NHL since 2014-15 season, when Kings terminated his $25 million contract. Could apply for reinstatement to the league.

NFL

The league instituted its policy in in August 2014, soon after Ray Rice was caught on camera dragging his unconscious wife from a hotel elevator. 

Cayleb Jones, Vikings

Background: Arrested on suspicion of domestic assault, interfering with 911 call outside a hotel in Minnesota in late August.

Legal result: Ongoing.

NFL punishment: TBD.

Status: Was serving a four-game suspension for violating substance-abuse policy when he was arrested.

Aldon Smith, Raiders

Background: All-Pro was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence after allegedly fleeing scene in which victim suffered non-life threatening injuries after he bit her wrists. 

Legal result: Pleaded not guilty. Ongoing.

NFL punishment: Already was suspended indefinitely for a long list of league violations.

Status: Cut by the Raiders. Not in NFL.

Reuben Foster, San Francisco 49ers, eligible to return Sept. 23 (Photo: Josie Lepe / AP)

Reuben Foster, 49ers

Background: Arrested in February after girlfriend accused him of dragging her through their home. He also was accused of making criminal threats and possession of an assault rifle.

Legal result: Sentenced to 232 hours of community service; charges dropped.

NFL punishment: Suspended for two games.

Status: Eligible to return Sunday.

Roy Miller, Chiefs

Background: Arrested in November 2017, charged with domestic battery after wife accused him of dragging her by her hair in Florida.

Legal result: Pleaded not guilty contingent upon a pre-trial diversion program; wife recently has said she wants case re-opened.

NFL punishment: Suspended for six games.

Status: Waived by team; retired from NFL in June.

Michael Bowie, Giants

Background: Arrested in August 2017, accused of grabbing girlfriend by the neck, throwing her to the ground. in Tulsa County, Okla.

Legal result: No charges pressed.

NFL punishment: Not available.

Status: Waived by the Giants. Hasn’t appeared in NFL games since playoffs in 2014.

Tramaine Brock, 49ers

Background: In April 2017, Brock was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence and child endangerment for allegedly punching and trying to choke his girlfriend while she was holding their 1-year-old baby.

Legal result: Case dropped because of insufficient evidence.

NFL punishment: None.

Status: Released by the 49ers a day after his arrest. Playing for Broncos.

Junior Galette, Saints

Background: Arrested, charged with simple battery of a woman at his home in Louisiana in April 2017. She claimed Galette choked and pushed her.

Legal result: Charge dismissed.

NFL punishment: Suspended two games, but didn’t miss any because he was out for season with an Achilles’ injury.

Status: Last played with the Redskins in 2017.

Will Parks, Broncos

Background: Accused of harassment, non-physical domestic violence against former girlfriend in March 2017.

Legal result: Charges dropped.

NFL punishment: None.

Status: Playing for Broncos.

Ethan Westbrooks, Rams

Background: In March 2017, Westbrooks was arrested on suspected domestic violence during a child custody dispute in California.

Legal result: Case was dropped.

NFL punishment: None.

Status: Playing for Rams.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Photo: Ron Jenkins / File / AP)

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys

Background: Woman accused Elliott of pushing her against a wall and injuring her shoulder in February 2016. In July 2016 she accused him of five instances of abuse, including choking her.

Legal result: Not charged.

NFL punishment: Suspended for six games.

Status: Plays for Cowboys.

Montee Ball, Patriots

Background: Girlfriend accused him of throwing her across a hotel room; another girlfriend told police he strangled her in February 2016.

Legal result: Pleaded guilty to battery for his role in two domestic cases; sentenced to 60 days in jail, 18 months’ probation.

NFL punishment: Not available.

Status: Cut by the Broncos in 2015. Hasn’t played in NFL since.

Johnny Manziel, free agent

Background: A former girlfriend accused him of hitting her in January 2016. He was indicted by a grand jury on a misdemeanor.

Legal result: Charges dropped after he completed anger-management.

NFL punishment: Would have been suspended six games if another team signed him.

Status: Released by Browns after 2015 season. 

Justin Cox, Chiefs

Background: Accused of domestic violence, trespassing, burglary in Mississippi in July 2015, his second domestic violence charge in a span of months.

Legal result: Acquitted of domestic violence charge.

NFL punishment: Not available.

Status: Released by the Chiefs.

Ray McDonald, Bears

Background: Arrested, charged with domestic violence and false imprisonment and assaulting his ex-girlfriend, who was holding their 2-month-old child at the time. Also was accused of raping a woman during a pool party in 2014.

Legal result: No charges in either case.

NFL punishment: None.

Status: Released by the Bears. Hasn’t played in NFL since 2014.

Josh Brown, Giants

Background: Arrested in May 2015 in Washington on charges of fourth-degree domestic violence against his wife, who obtained a protective order.

Legal result: Charges dropped.

NFL punishment: Initially suspended for one game; six games later added after new evidence emerged.

Status: Last played in the NFL in 2016.

Rodney Austin, Lions

Background: Arrested and accused of pushing the mother and their infant child to the ground in April 2015.

Legal result: Found guilty on four misdemeanors, including assault on a woman and a child under 12. Sentenced to a year’s probation and batterers’ program.

NFL punishment: Suspended for six games.

Status: Released by Lions. Hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2013.

Bruce Miller, 49ers

Background: Arrested on misdemeanor battery charge after allegedly pushing his then-fiancee and smashing her phone against a wall in March 2015.

Legal result: Pleaded no contest; sentenced to 16 weeks of counseling.

NFL punishment: None.

Status: Released by 49ers after he was arrested on suspicion of assault charges on an elderly man. Hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015.

Josh McNary, Colts

Background: Arrested, charged with one count of rape, battery and criminal confinement of a woman who said McNary attacked her after a night of drinking in December 2014 in Indianapolis.

Legal result: Jury found him not guilty of all charges in September 2015.

NFL punishment: Placed on commissioner’s exempt list.

Status: Last played in the NFL in 2016 for Colts.

Jonathan Dwyer, Cardinals

Background: Arrested in September 2014. Charged with aggravated assault involving a woman, one including a child, preventing use of a phone in an emergency after police said he head-butted his wife and broke her nose, punched her in the face and threw a shoe at their 17-month-old child.

Legal result: Sentenced to 18 months’ probation, community service after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct.

NFL punishment: Suspended for three games.

Status: Last played in the NFL for the Cardinals in 2014.

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Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs at Nissan Stadium Sunday Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Andrew Nelles, Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean)

Adrian Peterson, Vikings

Background: Turned himself into police in September 2014 after being charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child for allegedly beating one of his children with a tree branch, leaving bruises on the boy’s back, butt, ankles, legs, hands and scrotum.

Legal result: Pleaded no contest to reckless assault as part of a plea deal. Served no jail time, fined $4,000 and sentenced to 80 hours of community service.

NFL punishment: Suspended for final 15 games of 2014 season.

Status: Plays for Redskins.

Quincy Enunwa, Jets

Background: Less than a week after the NFL implemented its domestic-abuse policy, Enunwa was accused of “grabbing the victim by her ankle and pulling her off a bed and causing her to strike and injure both her head and finger,” according to police.

Legal result: Case dismissed after woman decided to not pursue.

NFL punishment: Suspended four games.

Status: Plays for the Jets.

Greg Hardy, Panthers

Background: Arrested in May 2014 and charged with assault on a female and communicating threats after an ex-girlfriend accused Hardy of threatening to kill her and putting his arms around her neck. She said Hardy shoved her into a bathroom wall and threw her onto a futon full of assault rifles.

Legal result: Dismissed on appeal after he was convicted by a judge in a bench trial on assault charge and sentenced to 18 months’ probation, 60-day suspended jail sentence. 

NFL punishment: 10-game suspension was reduced to four games. Missed all but one game of the 2014 season while on commissioner’s exempt list.

Status: Last played for the Cowboys in 2015.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens, out of the NFL (Photo: Nick Wass / File / AP)

Ray Rice, Ravens

Background: Arrested and charged with simple battery after he allegedly punched his now-wife during an argument in a New Jersey casino. Video showed Rice pulling the unconscious woman from the elevator

Legal result: Case dismissed in May 2015 after he completed pretrial intervention program.

NFL punishment: Initially suspended for two games; later suspended indefinitely.

Status: Cut by Ravens; out of the NFL.

NBA

Put its new domestic violence policy into place in July 2017.

Jabari Bird, Celtics

Background: Arrested Sept. 13 and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping and strangulation after his girlfriend accused him of strangling her at least 12 times during a four-hour period, kicking her in the stomach, dragging her and throwing her against a wall.

Legal result: Bird pleaded not guilty; next court date scheduled for Oct. 25.

NBA punishment: TBD.

Status: Bird said he’s taking a break from basketball.

Darren Collison, Kings

Background: Arrested on a domestic violence charge of corporal injury to a spouse in Northern California in May 2016 after assaulting his wife in their home.

Legal result: Pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charge; sentenced to community service, three years’ probation, batterers’ treatment class.

NBA punishment: Suspended eight games.

Status: Played for the Pacers last season.

Willie Reed, Pistons

Background: Arrested, charged with misdemeanor domestic battery for an incident with his wife in August 2016 during which she said he dragged her across their apartment, pulled her hair and her wrist and tried to get her purse during an argument. Police said she had visible marks on her wrist, arms, back and chest.

Legal result: NA

NBA punishment: Suspended for six games.

Status: Pistons traded him to the Bulls, who waived him. If another team signs him, he will have to serve his suspension.

Dante Cunningham, Timberwolves

Background: Arrested in April 2014 and charged with domestic assault by strangulation for allegedly choking his girlfriend and slamming her against a wall.

Legal result: Charges dropped after police said accuser made up some of the allegations.

NBA punishment: None.

Status: Played for the Pelicans and Nets last season.

James Johnson, Grizzlies

Background: Arrested in June 2014 after he allegedly slapped and choked his wife during an argument at their home.

Legal result: Charges were dropped after his wife failed to appear in court.

NBA punishment: None.

Status: Played last season for the Heat.

Greg Oden, Heat

Background: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft was arrested in August 2014 for allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend in the face. Police said the woman’s face was bloody and swollen.

Legal result: Pleaded guilty to battery with moderate bodily injury in 2015 and was put on probation and ordered to undergo counseling.

NBA punishment: None.

Status: Last played in the NBA with the Heat in 2013-14.

Jeff Taylor, Charlotte Hornets, last in the NBA in 2014-15 (Photo: Chuck Burton / File / AP)

Jeff Taylor, Hornets

Background: The league’s first domestic violence arrest after Ray Rice occurred in September 2014. The former Vanderbilt player was charged with assault, misdemeanor assault and destruction of property after pushing his girlfriend and damaging a wall in a Lansing, Mich., hotel.

Legal result: Pleaded guilty to one count of domestic assault and malicious destruction of property, sentenced to 18 months’ probation and a diversion program in November 2014.

NBA punishment: Initially suspended indefinitely by the Hornets; suspended 24 games by the league.

Status: Last appeared in the NBA in 2014-15.

Reach Paul Skrbina at pskrbina@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.

More: How the Predators and NHL have handled allegations of domestic violence, sexual assault

 

 

 

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