Day in court is coming for Hope Solo...why is she still playing?

Day in court is coming for Hope Solo...why is she still playing?
Seattle Times' photo of soccer superstar Hope Solo at court

"Once all the facts come to light and the legal process is concluded, I am confident that I will be fully exonerated."

Hope Solo, on her Facebook page, June 2014 

Soccer star Hope Solo has a day in court...soon. A judge in Kirkland, Washington set January 20th as the day she faces two counts of fourth-degree assault of her half-sister and nephew.

Most recently, Solo’s half-sister and nephew did not appear for interviews Jan. 2, according to the Associated Press. Kirkland Municipal Court Judge Michael Lambo on Tuesday ordered another deposition this week.

Her lawyer is seeking to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the alleged victims are being willfully uncooperative, according to seattlepi.com. Their lawyer countered that they hadn't been served.

What happened? As reported last August:

"At some point during the night of June 21, Kirkland (WA) police responded to a 911 call about a disturbance in the 10600 block of 124th Ave N.E. The male caller had reported that a woman at the residence was hitting people and no one could get her to stop or leave the house, according to an account of the incident released Saturday by police."

Seattle Times account of Solo's arrest after allegedly hitting her sister and 17 year old nephew. 

According to police accounts gathered by Kirkland police officer, that woman was identified as Hope Amelia Stevens (she's married to former Seahawk Jerramy Stevens).

During a big party at the house, Solo reportedly hit her sister and 17 year old nephew, and allegedly shouted that her nephew was "too fat to be an athlete."  Other reports had her injured in the altercation.

In the aftermath, she was ordered to stay away from alcohol and her sister's family. The two-time Olympic medalist, Seattle Reign goalkeeper, and 'Dancing with the Stars' contestant was charged with two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree domestic assault.  She's facing up to six months in jail.

If convicted, that may interfere with her plans to join the US Women's National Team for the Women's World Cup in the summer.

Unlike male athletes such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, who've been charged with domestic violence and child abuse, and dropped by sponsors, Solo has not been benched, or even punished. She's kept every endorsement, recently modeling new Nike shoes.

Solo's in a unique position among athletes with domestic violence raps, because:

  • She's a woman
  • She's had violence in her life before
  • She's considered a role model to young girls

The last is the most disturbing to me.  What do I tell kids about hitting other people? Or demeaning them?

With domestic violence such an issue now, I was taken aback by US Soccer President Sunil Gulati, who essentially let Solo off the hook for her actions. At the time of her arrest, he said:

“U.S. Soccer takes the issue of domestic violence very seriously. From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the national team.

Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available we will carefully consider it.”

US Soccer President Sunil Gulati, in a statement reported by the Associated Press and other news outlets

She was in goal for all matches leading up to the 0-0 final in the title game against Brazil in the International Tournament of Brasilia in December.

Solo recently set a record for most shutouts by a US goalkeeper

Solo recently set a record for most shutouts by a US goalkeeper.

As much as Solo means to the USWNT, I disagree that she should have played. I don't care if you're male or female. Peterson and Rice couldn't play while they were charged. Solo should have been benched.

But domestic violence committed by a female is no laughing matter, either. According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence:

  • One in 14 men have been physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend or date at some point in their lives.
  • Approximately 7% of those men were assaulted by females
  • 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually

Solo's case is a great opportunity to understand that women can also abuse. And to set an example of how women's sports will treat domestic violence. Just because the numbers are small doesn't mean men don't count in the overall equation.

And even if US Soccer is currently allowing her a pass for 'due process,' it's in the back of everyone's mind from now until her trial starts.

That's why she should be off the field.

I looked for policies governing US Soccer and found none. Did I miss them? If I didn't, policies need to be adopted, and discussions need to be had about proper punishment, fines, etc. for violence, domestic and otherwise.

Because no one should hit another in anger or for any other reason. Ever.

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