Bianca Rivas, the victim of an alleged domestic assault by husband Jeurys Familia, has asked that charges against Familia be dropped, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach reported on Friday. However, it’s important to note the New York Mets reliever could still face punishment from Major League Baseball under its domestic violence policy, regardless of the legal proceedings.
Familia, 27, was arrested and charged with simple assault in an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred on Oct. 31. in Fort Lee, NJ. The incident, which was fueled by alcohol according to recently released audio of the 911 call, left Rivas with a scratch on her chest and a bruise on her right cheek. Familia recently pleaded not guilty to the charge in municipal court.
Though it seems more likely Familia will be cleared legally, it’s still a matter MLB takes very seriously. In fact, commissioner Rob Manfred stated last week that an investigation into the Familia case was “active,” though he noted no formal decision from the league would come until the legal process was over.
“I think that it is usually difficult for us to complete our investigation before the criminal process has run its course,” Manfred said. “We are out there. We’re active now. We’re gathering information. But I think that particularly given that we’re in the offseason, we’re going to try to proceed at a pace that makes sure we know all the facts before we try to make a discipline decision.
“We have the luxury of not being on the field right now, and we’ll take advantage of that.”
A precedent has been set by the league to hand out suspensions despite domestic charges being dropped. Earlier this year, Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game suspension despite the fact that he was neither arrested nor charged in connection with domestic abuse allegations against him. Jose Reyes, who joined Familia on the Mets during the 2016 season, received a 52-game suspension even though charges against him were dropped shortly before going to trial.
In both instances, fans weren’t exactly thrilled by the length of the suspensions or the time needed to make the decision. That’s especially true in Reyes’ case, as he was placed on paid leave by the Rockies in February but remained in limbo until mid-May. Regardless, the league seems set in its ways of placing due diligence over urgency, which certainly works better during an offseason investigation.
As for the length of past and future suspensions, that’s something we all hope they’ll find a level of consistency with. However, each case presents different circumstances and challenges, and the Familia case may be the most challenging yet. How they end up handling it could prove telling for future cases.
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