A month after allegedly striking his fiancée and rendering her unconscious, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted by a grand jury today on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault.
The incident took place at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, NJ on February 15. Rice played his college ball for the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights in New Brunswick, NJ.
Should Rice be convicted of the charge, he could stand to face a three- to five-year prison sentence in addition to a fine of up to $15,000.
Both he and his fiancée, Janay Palmer, were arrested following the incident and charged with simple assault-domestic violence. Both were released on bail and declined to press charges. They have since begun taking counseling sessions and are working to get past the public altercation.
Barring penal ramifications, the Ravens organization appears to be standing behind their player.
Earlier in the week, team owner Steve Bisciotti commented on the incident during the owners meetings to defend his player, saying that “if everybody was one-strike-and-you’re-out, then we’d all be in trouble”:
When somebody repeats mistakes, it’s showing a lack of character to me. You can’t take what Ray’s done—the kind of locker-room influence he’s been and the kind of community commitment that he’s shown—and say he’s a different person.
Following today’s indictment, the organization doubled down, issuing a statement that reads as follows: “this is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident”.
In addition, Rice’s attorney issued the following statement: “We vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault. Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy and they’re in counseling”.
A year after winning the Super Bowl, Rice proceeded to have by far the worst season of his professional career by some margin in 2013, averaging an abysmal 3.1 yards per carry. Prior to this season, Rice’s career average had been well in excess of 4.5 yards per carry, and that total dropped by .2 after 2013.
Rice also recorded a career-low 5.5 yards per reception. In addition, he scored a career-low four touchdowns outside of his rookie season, when he was in a rotation and Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain were the backs used at the goal line.
Rice still has three years remaining on a five-year, $35 million contract, and based on the organization’s comments, it seems as though the 27-year-old running back is in no jeopardy of being released, though the legal ramifications of his indictment are yet to unfold.