Domestic Violence is a real problem that strikes both famous and ordinary people. Many people reacted with revulsion to the video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then fiancé in an elevator and then dragging her out after she fell to the floor. But false accusations of domestic violence are also prevalent, as illustrated by the experience of Minnesota Timberwolves' Forward Dale Cunningham.
The National Review reported that Cunningham's then girlfriend accused him of kicking in a door, pushing her against the wall, and choking her. Though he denied the charges, he was arrested on the spot and spent the night in jail. Cunningham was released pending a trial but was then arrested again for violating a restraining order that the girlfriend had taken out, a charge that he also vehemently denied. He is alleged to have sent a threatening Skype message.
The charges were eventually dropped, not just for lack of evidence but because the girlfriend had made them up. The door that Cunningham had allegedly kicked in had been taken off the hinges when he had locked himself out a week before the domestic abuse incident was said to have taken place. The Skype message had been sent by the girlfriend to herself in an attempt to frame Cunningham.
It didn't matter. A charge of domestic violence is such a scarlet letter that Cunningham was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Fans, who had previously adored him, booed him at Timberwolves games. Eventually, the team declined to renew his contract, leaving his athletic career in ruins.
As for the girlfriend, prosecutors have declined to charge her with perjury, filing a false police report, and other crimes related to the accusation. The theory is that charging a woman who made a false accusation of domestic violence would have a chilling effect on those who might want to file a legitimate one.
Cunningham is now moving ahead with a civil action against the girlfriend with the idea of using a public trial to clear his name. But his life is already in ruins. Almost as important, a clogged court system was used by a vengeful woman to wreck a man's life.
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If you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence in Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Wildomar, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Perris, Banning, Corona or Riverside, call our law office to schedule a free consultation. We can help!