Senate President Calls for Investigation Into Handling of Ray Rice Case

By Michael Hill

A troubling question: why did it take a video of Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife Janay for the NFL to suspend him indefinitely, for the Baltimore Ravens to terminate his contract and for the general public to universally condemn Rice — when Rice already had told investigators he had punched Janay and when the video of Rice dragging a limp Janay out of the elevator had been viewed millions of times?

A troubling response from a domestic violence survivor, Patrice Lenowitz – who co-founded the Children’s Justice Campaign with actor Kelly Rutherford.

“Anyone living through that, they know what that feels like. For the general public who may not have had that experience in their lives, they need something to see. It’s sad but it’s true,” Lenowitz said.

Based on the record, as part of Ray Rice’s plea agreement, he’s getting anger management counseling. Seton Hall University law professor Jessica Miles specializes in domestic violence and says Rice needs something much more comprehensive.

“The batters’ intervention program is a 26-week program. Most anger management programs are five to 10 sessions. Anger management is for people in bar fights, fights with coworkers, they can’t control their anger. As we know from everything we had heard about Rice, this is not something he does to other people, this is something he does to his intimate partner. He controls his anger and waits until he is on an elevator when he thinks he is not being watched and then he punches her,” Miles said.

Rice was first a Rutgers star and then became one in the NFL. He’s in a pre-trial intervention program that allows counseling and the expunging of his conviction, avoiding prison time.

Several lawmakers propose to change who can qualify for PTI.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office has defended its handling of the case: “Mr. Rice received the same treatment by the criminal justice system in Atlantic County that any first-time offender has, in similar circumstances… That decision was correct.”

The NFL has now revised its policy to a six-game suspension for a first domestic violence offense and then banishment for a second offense.

Two days after its release, the videotaped attack still sparks outrage and calls for review.

“I thought he killed her. It made me sick to my stomach,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Sweeney says he’s asked AG to look into the handling of Ray Rice case, but so far it looks as if Rice got no special treatment, which raises another question.

“If this is standard procedure for handling domestic violence cases in our courts, then we need to fix it because it’s much more than a slap on the wrist and and say don’t do it again,” Sweeney said.

“For whatever reason, courts, judges lawyers play down domestic violence,” Lenowitz said.

Lenowitz and other advocates for domestic violence prevention say they welcome the state’s review.