U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy wrote to the National Football League Friday urging the league to impose harsher sanctions on Baltimore Ravens runningback Ray Rice, who faces an assault charge in a domestic violence case.
Rice is accused of knocking his fiancée unconscious and dragging her out of an elevator at a casino in February. He is charged with felony aggravated assault. The NFL suspended Rice for two games.
In a letter sent Friday to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Blumenthal, Murphy, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Ill, said the "decision to suspend Mr. Rice for a mere two games sends the inescapable message that the NFL does not take domestic or intimate-partner violence with the seriousness they deserve."
The Democratic senators said Rice's suspension reflects a "disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women," especially when compared to cases for which the NFL has imposed stiffer penalties, like violation of banned substance policies.
The senators asked the league to "reconsider and revise" Rice's supsension and to develop procedures to ensure that domestic violence cases are addressed appropriately. They cited the need for a domestic violence policy by pointing to a U-T San Diego study that shows 21 of 32 teams in the NFL employed a player with a domestic violence or sexual assault charge on his record.
Blumenthal has sponsored legislation in Congress aimed at preventing and appropriately responding to instances of sexual assault, including a bill earlier this week that would set standards for how colleges, universities and campus police respond to sexual assault cases.
The senators also wrote to Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome asking him to act if the NFL does not.
"We urge you to use your own authority to impose a longer suspension on Mr. Rice – one that clearly indicates that knocking a woman unconcscious is a despicable act of violence that has no place in professional sports or, indeed, anywhere in civilized society," they wrote.Copyright © 2015, CT Now