Lack of urgency shown in Cubs player domestic abuse investigation

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Lack of urgency shown in Cubs player domestic abuse investigation

Arturo Parvadila III- Flickr

Arturo Parvadila III- Flickr

Arturo Parvadila III- Flickr

Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

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Recent accusations of domestic abuse from his ex-wife have left Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell on an extended paid administrative leave administered by Major League Baseball. The league is investigating the alleged incidences by Melisa Reidy-Russell. But the lack of public outrage and more punitive measures by the Chicago team underlines the carelessness surrounding abuse accusations.

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon’s response after reading Reidy-Russell’s blog post, in which she detailed the abuse she faced, is telling.

After stating domestic abuse is “horrible” and that he felt for Reidy-Russell, Maddon went on to say, “But I don’t know enough about the other side. I’m waiting for the full report to come out; then we all can draw a conclusion.”

A thorough investigation of Reidy-Russell’s claims by the league is the right course of action. But just placing him on paid leave is not the ideal way to show you’re taking these allegations seriously. This is not the first time Russell’s faced them.

Last year, after Reidy-Russell accused the baseball player of infidelity, her friend commented on social media that he was also abusing her. An open-ended investigation by the MLB followed, but Russell was never suspended by the Cubs.

The team also made the questionable decision to trade for Aroldis Chapman in 2016 on their way to winning the World Series. Chapman faced domestic abuse allegations for which he was suspended for 30 games prior to the trade.  

As for the Russell investigation that’s reportedly ongoing, the MLB has not released any further updates since it began last June.

Even now, how much regret is Russell really going to feel while he sits on the sideline, waiting for this to blow over–again–while a steady stream of hundreds of thousands of dollars makes its way into his bank account?

Maddon’s response also shows the problematic attitude much of society has towards women’s claims of abuse. Too many times the default response in these situations is to not believe the accuser. Even in cases where there is damning evidence, the woman is still blamed for the man’s actions.

How a situation like this has adversely impacted the woman is often an afterthought. The focus is on how these accusations are going to negatively affect the man’s life even if he is guilty.

Furthermore, guilt is often seen as neither here nor there. A poll conducted by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found that 58 percent of Republicans would still support confirming Brett Kavanaugh even if the sexual assault allegations against him were confirmed to be true. It is this practice that continues to fuel women’s reluctance towards coming forward.

We’ve seen far more aggressive action taken against athletes who were standing up for their rights and the rights of millions of American citizens. One would think an accusation as serious as domestic violence should be met with a similar reaction.

There’s a clear need to reevaluate the priorities of this country when an athlete protesting widespread injustice is treated more harshly than an athlete accused of physical and emotional abuse against his then-wife.  

According to the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, one in three women suffers some form of physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. There is also a correlation between domestic violence and higher occurrences of depression and suicidal behavior.

A lack of liability will allow for the continuation of abuse against women. We cannot keep jeopardizing the safety of countless women in this country by having such a lopsided and laissez-faire attitude towards the perpetrators of these crimes.   

Resulting from the sexism and misogyny that still permeates our society, the habit of automatically not believing female accusers must end. Movements such as ‘MeToo’ and ‘TimesUp’ have called attention to this, and we must keep advocating for women’s rights. When we continue to fail to hold abusers accountable, we continue to fail our women.


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