Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell — who is currently suspended 40 games by Major League Baseball for violating the league’s domestic violence policy — is in the spotlight again for his treatment toward women. Both his ex-wife and his previous girlfriend, who is the mother of his first child, have come forward with new details of his alleged abuse against them.
The allegations further paint of a picture of Russell, 24, as physically and mentally abusive, while providing more insight into what caused MLB to suspend him in October. He’ll be restricted from playing until May 3. The Cubs could have dumped Russell last month at the non-tender deadline, but team president Theo Epstein gave him a contract for 2019 and said they opted to “take action to try to become a small part of the solution for Addison.”
That decision will be further in the spotlight now that more details have emerged about Russell’s treatment of his ex-wife Melisa Reidy and Mallory Engstrom, with whom Russell had a child while he was dating Reidy.
Reidy sat down with Kelly Wallace of The Expanded Roster and the result was a 6,000-word piece that details Reidy’s relationship with Russell in great detail, from the time they were dating and falling in love to her allegations of abuse and the couple’s divorce. Reidy published her own blog post in September talking about her relationship with Russell, which led to her cooperating with the MLB investigation. She’d spoken publicly about her marriage, but never in as much detail as this latest story.
It includes everything from times Russell is accused of physically abusing her to the time he tried to trip her while she was pregnant and when he tried to get her to have sex in a hospital shower while their young son was hospitalized.
Among the most troubling parts was the first time she says Russell abused her during Spring Training in Arizona:
“He kicked the door down and ripped Aiden [their son] out of my arms. I’m following him, like…please give him to me, I’m nervous. I don’t think he’s going to hurt [Aiden] but he’s drunk,” Reidy explains. “Honestly I’ll never forget that. That feeling was like, you know when your dad yells at you when you’re a kid, and you’re like, “[Expletive]. I’m about to get a spanking.” It’s probably the scariest thing as a kid to feel. That’s basically what I can relate it to.”
Reidy says Russell had their son in one arm, and grabbed the front of her shirt with the other, throwing her across the room and onto the ground. “I was this close to my head hitting the coffee table,” she continues, “I just sat up and looked and he closed the bedroom door and had Aiden in there.” She went into the other room, and retrieved Aiden when she heard Russell go out onto the balcony. She fell asleep and woke up to him in bed with the two of them. Afterward, she was the one who felt like she had to apologize.
Reidy also talked about another alleged incident where Russell tackled her on the street and yelled at her after he interrupted her night out with friends:
“He slammed me into concrete…like, football tackled me. His friend was there and Carlie was there and they watched it. I was down, he was on top of me, yelling in my ear, saying, “You like doing this to me. You push my buttons. Do you like it when I get like this? Do you like doing this? You like pushing me to the point where I have to act like this.”
Reidy also says she found evidence that Russell was cheating on her again during spring training 2017 and left to go home to Florida. She said she returned to Chicago in May so he could see their son. During that visit, Reidy says Russell got angry and grabbed her by the throat.
Reidy says she agreed to come back to Chicago in May after Russell insisted he wanted to see his son. She wanted to see Aiden’s half-sister Mila for her birthday and figured it was an opportunity to see if he’d meant anything he’d told her about how he was trying to change. It was fine for “the first two days”, and then things went right back to how they had been before. “He said something rude to me, and I responded, “What, do I look like a maid or something?” I was sitting on the couch texting…obviously it pissed him off,” She remembers the kids were playing on a small trampoline by the TV. “He walks over and grabs me by my throat and pins me up against the couch. He’s like, “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” I had to pull my knees up and push him off.”
Reidy says she went to the bedroom to walk away from the situation and Russell followed her into the bathroom, shutting the door behind himself. “He’s yelling at me and then he literally bowed up,” She stops for a second to collect herself before continuing, “He bowed up his arm and I was like, “You know what? Go ahead. Fucking hit me. Just do it…it’ll be the last time you ever put your hands on me. Go ahead and do it.” Russell backed off, and Reidy believes that he knew she wasn’t scared of him anymore after that.
The Expanded Roster article published not even 24 hours after Engstrom, the mother of Russell’s first child, posted her own allegations against him on Instagram. Engstrom’s allegations range from emotional abuse to Russell trying to get out of paying child support and then being very petty about it — paying her in dollar bills and rolls of quarters. Engstrom also alleged that the Cubs have blocked her on social media to “silence her.”
Screenshots from @MalEngstrom’s Instagram page detailing interactions with #AddisonRussell in regards to their daughter. She says she was paid about $600 of child support in quarters and Russell’s advisors “feel they can disobey a court ordered agreement.” .#Cubs pic.twitter.com/vYjWnPJYRo
— Ally Pruitt (@AllyPruitt1) December 18, 2018
Here’s the text of those posts:
I can’t even begin to understand how someone is objecting to a childcare expense knowing they have zero responsibility in physically caring for the child. Since he abandoned us, thinking the grass was greener, about 4 1/2 years ago, I’ve never once been able to rely on my daughter’s father to care for her in a time of need or while I am working. He is absent from our daughter’s life for months at a time & yet he goes out of his way to make me struggle while I raise her on my own. His team of “advisors” feel they have the power to disobey a court ordered agreement just to save him a few bucks. It’s disgusting to know my daughter’s care and well-being isn’t a priority, the only goal is to decrease a money expense. How does someone continue to keep having children while neglecting to be an active, involved father to their first born’s life. I’ve taken the high road and kept quiet for years now. My daughter’s father has even gone as far to have the #cubs block me from social media as an attempt to silence me. I’m exhausted from my kindness being taken as a weakness. I’m sure the term loyalty is an unknown concept to him but trust me, it will be understood when I’m no longer loyal to people who take advantage of it.
Fun fact of my journey: about 3 years ago from today I was paid a portion of my child support in quarters and single dollar bills. About $600 total that I had to pack up and fly back home with. I remember being so confused how a family whom I genuinely cared about, could “love” Mila and I so much could sit back and stay silent. An event I forgave them for but have never forgot. That same trip I vividly remember shopping in toys r us for a Christmas gift for Mila’s little brother when I received a text message stating that my daughter smelled like “musk” and “dog poop” among other things as a result of my care. This event triggered my first anxiety attack which have only been increasing throughout the years. I called my moms best friend, I sat there and balled my eyes out and told myself I’d pick up my daughter & take the next flight out. We just kept talking to god and praying until I got everything out.
Russell didn’t directly respond to either Reidy or Engstrom on Wednesday, but he posted a photo on Instagram with his children from Reidy and Engstrom with the caption: “We’ve worked really hard to get to this point in life. I am blessed and so are my kids.”
It’s unclear what could happen from here for Russell — if anything.
It wouldn’t seem that Major League Baseball has any course of action against him, since he’s already been suspended for his mistreatment of Reidy and these are just new details becoming public that the league could have already known.
The Cubs could, in theory, release Russell but less than a month ago they were talking about being part of the solution. While that kind of about-face might seem warranted given the new information, it would also seem to go against the sentiment that they want to help Russell become a better person.
At that time, Russell issued a statement through the Cubs offering an apology to Reidy, his family and the Cubs organization and its fans. He said he was taking responsibility for his actions and entering into treatment with counselors and therapists.
He ended the statement by saying: “I am just in the early stages of this process. It is work that goes far beyond being a baseball player – it goes to my core values of being the best family man, partner, and teammate that I can be, and giving back to the community and the less fortunate. While there is a lot of work ahead for me to earn back the trust of the Cubs fans, my teammates, and the entire organization, it’s work that I am 110 percent committed to doing.”
Since his suspension from the Cubs, Russell has become a father for the third time. His girlfriend, Asti Kelley, gave birth to a baby boy on Oct. 22.
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