WNBA Takes Action on Domestic Violence Case - BRAVO WNBA

In a statement released today by WNBA President Laurel J. Richie - the two WNBA players involved in a personal domestic dispute and subsequent arrest, have been suspended without pay for the first 7 games of the WNBA regular season for their actions in this incident. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Glory Johnson of the Tulsa Shock were arrested at their home in Arizona on April 22 on identical misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct. Griner was a star at Baylor Univ. and played on last year's WNBA Championship Phoenix Mercury team; Johnson was a star player at the Univ. of Tennessee (her actions really disappointed me as a long-time fan and supporter of the Lady Vols) and was drafted in the first round of the 2012 WNBA draft by the Tulsa Shock where she still plays to date. Despite the domestic violence incident in April, Johnson married Griner on May 8 of this year. Go figure...


Griner Johnson wedding  photo @ N. Cote-NY Times

Griner Johnson wedding photo @ N. Cote-NY Times

I will be including Laurel Richie's statement after I finish my own diatribe on this crime - and yes, it is a crime. Griner received the harshest penalty after pleading guilty on April 28 in Goodyear City Court to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and entered a diversion program - the more serious charge of assault being dismissed. Griner is required to complete a 26-week domestic violence course, and if she successfully completes the course (and meets other standard conditions), the disorderly conduct charge will also be dismissed.  Johnson's case was transferred to county court and is still pending. So not only do both players have to face their criminal charges, they now have to face a 7 game suspension without pay by the WNBA to which I say BRAVO. Violence does not solve anything, violence does not belong at work or home, and as they say nearly daily on Chicago's South and West sides, and in many pro sports' PSA's - NO MORE! (see nomore.org site).

Kudos for WNBA President Richie taking a tough stance on these charges against Griner and Johnson and suspending them without pay. Now that Griner and Johnson are married, one can only hope that this was a one-time incident, they'll do the time for the crime, and move on to a kinder gentler lifestyle together. Meanwhile, their respective teams have to deal with their absences at the beginning of the WNBA season which starts on June 5th around the league. It's not fair to their coaches, teammates and owners who also have to "pay" for their actions by starting the season without them. Proving once again that those perpetrating a crime don't think about how their actions affect their own lives, but also so many of those around them both personally and professionally.

Now I present the entire statement issued today by Laurel Richie:

NEW YORK, May 15, 2015: 

The WNBA takes all acts of violence extremely seriously.  It is our strong belief that violence has absolutely no place in society, in sports or in this league.    

As president, it is my responsibility to protect the league and uphold its values.  Our athletes represent the WNBA, and they all must abide by the league’s standards of conduct.  In this case, Brittney and Glory failed to do so, and that is unacceptable. 

The WNBA immediately initiated its own investigation into the incident.  It was extremely important for us to review the events thoroughly and carefully.  Over the course of three weeks, the league conducted interviews with both players and three witnesses present for much of the altercation, and reviewed the police report, medical records, photos and other materials in order to determine the facts.  Based on the WNBA’s investigation, the following summary of facts is largely undisputed. 

Brittney and Glory were involved in a physical altercation with each other at their home.  It began when Glory pushed Brittney in the shoulder and Brittney pushed Glory in the back of the neck.  The confrontation escalated to include wrestling, punches, and the throwing and swinging of various objects.  Brittney received a bite wound on her finger and scratches on her wrist, and Glory received a scratch above her lip and was diagnosed with a concussion.

On April 28, Brittney pleaded guilty in Goodyear City Court to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and entered a diversion program.  The assault charge was dismissed.  Brittney is required to complete a 26-week domestic violence course, and if she successfully completes the course (and meets other standard conditions), the disorderly conduct charge will be dismissed.  Glory’s case was transferred to county court and is still pending.

ln the course of the WNBA's review of the incident, I received guidance from a group of domestic violence experts: Dr. Valli Kalei Kanuha, Professor of Sociology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, a national consultant and trainer on gender violence, including same-sex partner violence; Linda Fairstein, former Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office; and Kalimah Johnson, Founder and Executive Director of SASHA Center, a Detroit-based healing and awareness center focusing on sexual assault.   I also consulted with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and an internal group that focuses on education and counseling of players, including Kathy Behrens, the NBA's President for Social Responsibility & Player Programs, and Renee Brown, WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations.   

With consideration of all the facts and circumstances of this matter, we are suspending Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson each without pay for a period of seven regular-season games.  Brittney and Glory’s conduct is detrimental to the best interests of the WNBA and violates applicable law.   We also understand that people make mistakes, and that education and training are as important as imposing discipline.  Accordingly, each player will be required to attend individual counseling sessions with a counselor satisfactory to the WNBA.  If either player fails to comply with this condition or any of the conditions imposed by the court, we reserve the right to revisit this matter.

The WNBA will continue to focus intently on the issue of domestic violence.  Along with our partners in the Players Association, we will continue to educate our players so that they are equipped with the appropriate tools and resources and provided with necessary support systems.  As such, we will be conducting education sessions with all WNBA players and team personnel throughout the season focused on domestic violence and related issues. We recognize that our league has an obligation and an opportunity to set an example for people around the world, and we will continue doing everything we can to ensure that situations such as this do not happen again. 



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