UPDATE: Female Republican lawmakers in Trenton today called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign over his handling of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases — then upped the stakes by urging the owners of the New York Giants and Jets to push for his ouster.
Today’s statements followed the General Assembly’s passage in Trenton of a series of domestic violence bills designed to protect and help victims ( see below ).
“There’s no indication that Mr. Goodell will resign, so NFL owners, starting with the two in New Jersey, must show him the door or be just as responsible for effectively fostering the spread of domestic violence by selfish inaction,” a trio of female Republican state senators said.
State Sen. Jennifer Beck, Diane Allen and Dawn Addiego said that Goodell “downplayed domestic violence and assault for nothing but selfish reasons, ignoring his responsibility to be a role model and a leader of men in a sport that is played or watched by people of all ages in virtually every American community, school and household.
“His neglect of ongoing domestic violence issues in the NFL — including but not limited to the Rice case — and inability to enact a no-tolerance policy set an unacceptably bad example for children, aspiring athletes and coaches across the world.
“We’ve waited too long to see some sign of definitive and corrective action by Mr. Goodell, starting with the admission that his self-serving inaction regarding domestic violence has been a mistake,” the state senators statement says. “By now, it would have been the right move for Mr. Goodell to step down from his powerful post to for once show people, young and old, that there can be no mistakes: hitting women and children is wrong and must not be accepted.”
This followed a release issued by a group of female GOP state lawmakers in the other house — among them, Bergen County Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.
The Assemblywomen’s statement read, in part:
“Commissioner Goodell is unsuccessfully trying to appease the fans and advertisers that the league takes these actions seriously,” “If he were truly serious, he would apologize and submit his resignation over his failure to take immediate steps to prevent these kinds of assaults.”
“When someone sucker punches an innocent woman or takes a switch to his son, something is terribly wrong. [Yet] the league either delays disciplinary action or issues a slap on the wrist of the offender.
“The NFL should send a message to society that it will not tolerate these actions, and implement a no-tolerance policy with severe repercussions,” the statement says.
Besides Schepisi, it’s signed by Assembly Republicans Caroline Casagrande, Nancy F. Muñoz, Mary Pat Angelini, Amy Handlin, Alison McHose, DiAnne Gove, BettyLou DeCroce, Donna Simon and Maria Rodriguez-Gregg.
The six-bill domestic violence package was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Annette Quijano, Gabriela Mosquera, Carmelo Garcia, Reed Gusciora, L. Grace Spencer, Cleopatra Tucker, Ralph Caputo, Celeste Riley and John Burzichelli.
§ A-2163, sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Quijano, Mosquera and Garcia, that would create a 16-member task force to review current law, practices, and procedures in New Jersey concerning domestic violence and abuse.
“Domestic violence transcends all socio-economic backgrounds and requires a comprehensive effort to help combat it effectively,” Vainieri Huttle said. “This coordinated strategy will help us determine what works, what falls short, and where we need to concentrate our efforts to improve our domestic violence response.”
§ A-1310, sponsored by Quijano and Gusciora, would require that defendants convicted of a domestic violence offense who are placed on probation or have their sentence suspended must attend domestic violence counseling.
“In order to effectively combat domestic violence, there needs to be a twofold approach: cracking down on offenders while also enhancing protections for victims,” Quijano said. “Counseling for offenders is a good start to systemically tackling the root of the problem.”
§ A-1579, sponsored by Spencer, Tucker and Caputo, would create a self-defense justification for victims of domestic violence.
§ A-1953, sponsored by Riley, Burzichelli and Mosquera, would require law enforcement officers to search domestic violence restraining order registries, upon each arrest, to determine if the person arrested has had a domestic violence restraining order entered against them.
§ A-2154, sponsored by Riley and Mosquera, would permit a witness who is under the age of 16 or a victim of any age to testify by closed circuit television in prosecutions for crimes or offenses involving domestic violence.
§ A-2640, sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, would permit victims to secure restraining orders against perpetrators when no demonstrable personal relationship between the two parties exists, such as when the attacker is a stranger or a casual acquaintance of the victim.
“For too long, we have made it the victim’s responsibility to prove that he or she has the fundamental right to be safe,” she said. “This bill affirms our commitment to the notion that our residents ought to live free from any form of abuse, no matter who the attacker is.”
The bills now head to the Senate for consideration.
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