June 12, 2015
U.S. Soccer responds to Sen. Blumenthal criticisms of it handling the Hope Solo domestic violence case
The United States Soccer Federation Friday responded in a letter to U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who sent a letter to U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati.
In summary, the letter indicated that U.S. Soccer has been guided in its approach to this matter by the limited access it has had to information, contradictory accounts of the incident and applicable state and federal laws.
Earlier in the day, Blumenthal sent a letter to Gulati criticizing the way he and his organization handled Solo's situation in the wake of her domestic violence dispute. "Domestic violence is unacceptable, particularly for an athlete representing the United States of America on the global stage," Blumenthal said in the letter.
“Last year, I criticized the NFL for failing to adequately punish domestic violence in the wake of a two-game suspension given to Ray Rice. It is distressing that after so many months of national dialogue on the issue, we find ourselves at square one in the Hope Solo situation."
Key points of the letter to Sen. Blumenthal include:
* U.S. Soccer made efforts to investigate the June 2014 incident and Solo’s role in them. Due to the Washington Criminal Records Privacy Act, U.S. Soccer was advised by the Kirkland Police Department that obtaining certain materials required a public records act request. U.S. Soccer was provided a redacted and partial copy of the report – only 26 of 52 pages.
* U.S. Soccer’s internal review surfaced several inconsistencies in the various statements of the complaining witnesses. Based on the public reports of the incident and the partial police report, and Solo’s denial of public reports of the incident, U.S. Soccer elected not to interview the complaining witnesses.
* Charges were dismissed against Ms. Solo not based on minor “procedural” missteps but rather because the conduct of the prosecutor and its witnesses denied Solo her constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial.
U.S. Soccer noted that the court found, in summary:
* The prosecution witnesses’ “failure to cooperate with defense interviews.”
* The complaining witnesses refused to answer questions with respect to “medical prescriptions [one of the complainants] was taking and apparently under the influence of at the time of the alleged assault as well as [his] medical and mental status at the time of the alleged assault and the first interview.”
* The complaining witnesses “declined to appear for a court ordered second interview.”
* The complaining witnesses “failed to appear for a second time for the court ordered interviews.”
* The complaining “witnesses left the state” to avoid the court ordered interviews.
* After the time to identify witnesses had passed, the government sought to add four new witnesses to its witness list, all of whom declined to be interviewed by defense counsel.
U.S. Soccer noted that certain members of the media may have obtained access to a supplemental police report and certain testimony provided by Solo’s half-sister and her son. U.S. Soccer was not afforded access to such information, and the testimony of the complaining witnesses now being quoted was ordered sealed by the court.
The federation's actions, investigation and public comments on its action, particularly those involving national team personnel, are affected and governed by state and federal laws. One is the Ted Stevens Act, which requires that national governing bodies like the Federation maintain a fair internal hearing process including the right to call and confront witnesses before denying an athlete the opportunity participate in competitions.
U.S. Soccer said that reports about the alleged post-arrest conduct of Solo are being investigated, but noted that the original police report made available to the Federation does not contain any suggestion that Solo engaged in any alleged post-arrest misbehavior.
In conclusion, U.S. Soccer said in its letter that it is reviewing its processes for addressing these types of incidents and considers the domestic and family violence a very serious matter.