NFL official says legal process will play role in abuse punishment

Wed Oct 22, 2014 11:24am EDT
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(Reuters) - Punishment for NFL players implicated in domestic violence will not be imposed upon arrest but at some point "farther down the process," said a key figure charged with overhauling the league's handling of such cases.

Lisa Friel said the legal process will play a role in determining at what point the National Football League will sanction players involved in domestic violence.

"It won't be upon an allegation, I can tell you that," Friel, the former head of the New York City District Attorney's sex crimes unit, said on NBC's "Today" show in an interview that aired Wednesday.

"And it won't be merely upon an arrest. It will be at somewhere farther down the process."

Friel was asked by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to help revamp the league's domestic violence approach in the wake of the Ray Rice episode.

Goodell originally suspended Rice for two games for knocking out then-fiancee Janay Palmer during a February argument at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. After a video emerged of the knockout punch last month, the Baltimore Ravens released the running back and Goodell suspended him indefinitely. Goodell was roundly criticized for his original two-game sanction and admitted he "didn't get it right."

"I think that the league was listening to people," Friel said. "And they didn't have all the right voices at the table."

Since the Rice incident, several other NFL players have been arrested on domestic abuse charges, including Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson, accused of disciplining his 4-year-old son by hitting him with a thin tree branch.

The NFL is expected to announce its new domestic violence policy next month.

(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg)