District Attorney Declines to Charge 49ers’ McDonald in Domestic Violence Case

District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced on Monday that his office will not file domestic violence charges against San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald, citing a lack of evidence.

San Jose police arrested and jailed the football player on suspicion of felony domestic violence Aug. 31, after responding to reports of a dispute at his 30th birthday party that reportedly left his pregnant then-fiancé physically hurt. Investigators said she showed “visible injuries.”

But after a two-month review of the incident, which included inappropriate contact between an off-duty San Jose police officer and the suspect, the the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said it had no choice but to drop the case.

“Conflicting versions of the incident, a lack of verifiable eyewitnesses, and a significant lack of cooperation by Jane Doe [McDonald’s fiancé] left investigators uncertain exactly what happened,” Rosen’s office stated in a press release.

“Both of the parties involved state that Jane Doe struck Ray McDonald first and the evidence shows injuries consistent with restrain and an ensuing scuffle rather than an attack,” the statement continues. “Extensive follow-up investigation has not shown otherwise. Because of conflicting accounts, the lack of verifiable eyewitnesses and the seemingly minor nature of Jane Doe’s injuries, we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred.”

According to the DA’s office, the case was complicated because a San Jose police officer—Sgt. Sean Pritchard, who was working a private security gig on the side for the 49ers—was already at McDonald’s home when authorities arrived on scene.

Pritchard’s close relationship with the football player, as well as other off-duty work by officers for the football team, has raised concerns that officers' moonlighting security jobs present conflicts of interest. The San Jose Police Department has since suspended all work with the 49ers and launched an internal investigation into why Pritchard was at the player’s home.

Prosecutors say McDonald called Pritchard over, worried about text messages he was getting from women he met the night before. McDonald told Pritchard that he was afraid the women would show up at his house and cause trouble.

"At one point he told Sgt. Pritchard he was afraid the women had actually shown up because one of them sent him a text describing what he was wearing," according to the DA's office.

Sometime later in the party, McDonald's 10-week-pregnant fiancé came downstairs to confront McDonald's guests, worried that some women at the party were "getting too friendly." She told one woman talking to McDonald to step outside, which they did. The confrontation turned verbally aggressive. McDonald got upset and began calling his fiancé names, telling her she was an unfit mother and threatening to take her baby.

Then, according to the DA, she hit McDonald.

"Jane Doe said it was a single push," the DA's statement reads. "McDonald said Jane Doe hit him multiple times with a closed fist. (McDonald had no visible injuries or complaints of pain.) McDonald grabbed Jane Doe’s arms to restrain her, resulting in visible injury. At some point they ended up on the couch. Jane Doe said McDonald threw her on the couch. McDonald said they fell on the couch. McDonald tried to remove Jane Doe from the home forcibly. At one point he grabbed her neck, resulting in visible injury. Jane Doe said she was 'fighting back,' physically resisting McDonald’s efforts to pull her out of the house. Jane Doe said she tried to push McDonald off of her. Jane Doe was able to free herself. McDonald said he let go. Then Jane Doe ran upstairs."

McDonald called Pritchard at 2:39am and said, "I need to get this female out of my house."

Two minutes later, his fiancé called 9-1-1 and said, "Hello. I'd like to press for a domestic violence ... my fiancé … he’s trying to pull me out of the house … he’s drunk ... I think he’s calling the cops, he, he’s trying to get me out.”

Later that morning, after being sent to the hospital for treatment and while McDonald was in custody, she sent a text saying, "Shit got way outta hand."

The August incident wasn't the first time police responded to McDonald's Bentley Ridge Drive home. In May, his fiancé allegedly fired a gun.

"The fact that the appropriate charging decision is clear does not make it simple or easy," the DA's office stated. "Facts surrounding the incident remain unknown despite extensive investigation. Jane Doe’s decision not to cooperate further with the investigation and the lack of eyewitnesses has left critical gaps in the evidence. Missing evidence precludes a feeling of certainty regarding how the events unfolded in this case. The charging decision is neither simple nor easy in part because of public expectations surrounding the case."

Throughout the investigation, the NFL and 49ers have allowed McDonald to play in games, with 49ers owner Jed York insisting on allowing due process to play out. The league has faced criticism for the way it disciplines players accused of domestic abuse. The McDonald incident occurred right after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended. Video surveillance showed Rice punching his fiancée in a hotel elevator, knocking her out cold.

The 49ers hold the dubious distinction of most arrests in the league—10—since 2012.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

21 Comments

  1. Chalk-up another victory for political-correctness, as a non-story about an assault and an obstruction of justice — neither of which occurred, was so skillfully harvested by the culture-destroyers that one would think America’s reasoning processes had been outsourced.

    The news tells us that Ray McDonald was not charged “due to a lack of evidence.” Note that no one dares explain further: that what was lacking was not evidence of the crime for which he was arrested, but evidence that Mr. McDonald even committed a crime (which he didn’t). But in these culturally-ruinous times governed by the dictates of reason-impaired feminists, for the police or district attorney to even hint that a male, especially a big football player, could have been totally guiltless in a conflict in which a jealous, hysterical woman dialed 9-1-1 claiming victimhood, is to invite accusations of institutional misogyny. Worse, to dare reveal that a woman’s claim of victimhood might be questioned and examined objectively would, say the professionals, “send the wrong message,” impacting women to such a degree that it would set the cause of protecting them all the way back to the hair-dragging days of the cave.

    The evidence shows the only crime committed was an assault against Ray McDonald by his accuser (a fiancé more dangerous than Ebola), a bit of information that no one wants to acknowledge. Why? Because his fiancé is a woman, and she’s smaller than he is, and she’s the one who called 9-1-1, and lots of women are injured or killed by their spouses, and he’s a football player, and football players are known to be abusers, and he had his cop buddy there, and we know how cops conspire, and, and, CASE CLOSED! If this brand of feminist-think appears familiar it is because it is indistinguishable from the primitive reasoning sociologists encounter when working with jungle dwellers (an alarming event + activated emotions + preconceived notions = hysterical conclusions, minus logic).

    While I don’t believe all women are idiots, it is quite clear that domestic violence professionals do, as they view with horror every little bit of reality that might seep in and threaten their man-hating mantra, as if the women to whom they target their “awareness” and “outreach” campaigns are children who must be protected from the truth about Santa. The end-result is the dumbing down of the rest of society, as every rational adult must either tiptoe around the myth or risk social and professional persecution.

    • Just like the De Anza Rape case and the Giant’s Grandfather stepping in. If this player committed no crime, then the cop didn’t and SJPD can go back to security 78 hours a week while giving the taxpayer 40 hours???????????????/

  2. Some guy is partying with random women other than his pregnant fiance? His pregnant fiance gets agitated so he makes a call and an on-duty cop shows up to smooth things over, before the cop that got a 911 call from the pregnant fiancee shows up on the call? None of this is likely illegal, it’s not in the category of justice prevailing.

    Sorry, but this isn’t a good story for either the 49ers or for the San Jose Police.

  3. FEMALE SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR VOICES!

    Have you been hurt by a romantic partner in the last 6 months?

    If so, and you are female, heterosexual, and at least 18 years old, would you be willing to complete a 20 minute survey to help us better understand your experiences?

    If yes, click on the link below. Eligible participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card for their time.

    https://umdsurvey.umd.edu/SE/?SID=SV_5pZKP6Fdx9tI3tj

  4. FEMALE SURVIVORS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR VOICES!

    Have you been hurt by a romantic partner in the last 6 months?

    If so, and you are female, heterosexual, and at least 18 years old, would you be willing to complete a 20 minute survey to help us better understand your experiences?

    If yes, click on the link below. Eligible participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card for their time.

    https://umdsurvey.umd.edu/SE/?SID=SV_5pZKP6Fdx9tI3tj

    Thank you!

    • > Eligible participants will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card for their time.

      Oh, right.

      Not a serious study. Just trolling for political narrative.

      Why not give a Grand Prize for the best narrative, maybe a pair of comp tickets to a Hillary fundraiser.

    • Is there a survey for men too? Or for gay people?

      Since you are asking for input only from female heterosexuals as your “victim group”, then you obviously want only information about what straight men, as the “victimizer group” have done to members of the “victim group”. This only reinforces your obviously preconceived notion that only men perpetrate domestic violence and then only against women. This sounds less like research and more like an agenda.

      What constitutes a “romantic” relationship? How many dates are required? If the couple goes on one date, consisting of dinner, a movie and a goodnight kiss at the door, is that enough? What about if the couple goes to see “Phantom of the Opera” or “Bridges of Madison County”, has coffee on the way home and he just drops her off at the curb. I believe that some sort of physical intimacy might constitute a “romantic” situation but what if they were both drunk, it happens spontaneously and both regret it in the morning, that doesn’t sound too “romantic”, especially if he doesn’t call her later.

      These things need to be defined since they are elements of the crime of domestic violence and as the Ray McDonald case shows, the accusation alone is more important than the law.

      Domestic violence goes both ways and anyone who doesn’t believe that a man can be brutalized and raped, has never gone through a divorce in California.

  5. Add to this story’s confusion the public’s poor reading comprehension and you windup with conclusions, such as S Randall’s above, that are not justified by the contents of the reports. The evidence is not that McDonald was partying with random women, but that he feared some women he’d met previously were about to show-up and set-off WWIII with his fiancé. The police sergeant was summoned to prevent the hostilities (aka keep the peace), an assignment about which there is nothing sinister.

    Bottom-line, a man who committed no crime and did everything possible to prevent his volatile fiancé from exploding into violence, was jailed, defamed, and had his career jeopardized by the acts of a woman that the media wants to portray as a victim.

    • Sometime later in the party, McDonald’s 10-week-pregnant fiancé came downstairs to confront McDonald’s guests, worried that some women at the party were “getting too friendly.” She told one woman talking to McDonald to step outside, which they did.

      What does “getting too frendly” mean to you? It means that women were there and were getting too friendly with McDonald – at least according to his fiance. Is “getting too friendly” a better euphemism to use than “partying”?

      Who summoned the on-duty police sergeant? Not the SJPD. Sgt. Pritchard is a gang-suppression unit supervisor. What’s he doing spending so much of his on-duty time being running interference for McDonald? What gang was he trying to suppress?

      As I wrote, I don’t think this is a good story for either the 49ers or the SJPD.

  6. He can’t prosecute for the same reason the De Anza College Rapists went free, the power of the Giant’s over their high ranking employees grandson and the 49er’s political power not to mention the SJPD’s involvement and all of Holocaust Rosen’s investigators are SJPD retirees. You see corruption can be hidden until everyone is corrupt .and then it starts popping out like on a well exercised taxpayer mattress from the rear.

  7. S Randall,

    If you want to find Mr. McDonald guilty of a crime because a woman whose actions at a party were described as “getting too friendly” by an instigating female then I wonder if there is any conclusion too big for you to jump to. Nowhere is there any evidence that anyone, not even his fiancé, accused Ray McDonald of “getting too friendly” or in any other way acting improperly (check the D.A.’s report). Quite the contrary, the evidence is that he called his team security for the express purpose of keeping from his house any party crashers who might ignite his volatile fiancé (who’d fired a gun during a prior outburst).

    The fact that his team security man thought it best to dispatch Sgt. Pritchard, someone mandated to report domestic violence (as opposed to a civilian security man), strongly suggests that there was no indication that Mr. McDonald had broken any laws (or was about to). Neither Mr. McDonald nor the 49ers did anything wrong that evening, despite the strong desire from community imbeciles to claim they did. Likewise, Sgt. Pritchard’s decision to go there on duty is reflective of his judgment and his interpretation of his obligations (as you stated, the dept. did not send him), not those of the entire police department.

    • I never said anything about a crime. I said “I don’t think this is a good story for either the 49ers or the SJPD.”

      Your description about “keeping from his house any party crashers” who might ignite his fiance” isn’t keeping with the description of Ray McDonald “getting too friendly” with women that were already in the house.

      You keep defending Pritchard, but Pritchar’s actions were indefensible. He’s on duty drawing a paycheck from the SJPD, supposedly to work on gang-suppression, and he shows up to keep the peace at a private party that the SJPD didn’t dispatch him to? On what planet is that supposed to be acceptable behavior for a peace officer? It may not be illegal, but people outside of law enforcement get fired for less. Much less.

    • FINFAN says “check the D.A’s report” How do we do that? Has FINFAN seen it? All I’ve seen or heard is the DA’s press release. Since no-one was charged, the DA’s report should remain confidential. I’d love to see the report. Any low rent Snowdens out there? If these acts were perpetrated by poor or middle class folks, the DA would have charged (and in Santa Clara County, overcharged for plea bargaining power) and let a jury sort it out.

      • Mr. O’Connor sir. Provided the investigation is not on-going and would not be jeopardized by the release of information (a decision made by the PD Records Unit supervisor) anyone can get a copy of a police report as such reports are generally public information, at least a summary of the case anyway. I am not sure but the district attorney’s office likely has some policy regarding the release of police reports as well.

        In either case, you will probably have to show identification and be charged by the page since PD records personnel are paid to work there (Those few that are left anyway).and you will be investigated and put in jail if you use or disclose any portion of the report to commit a crime or harassment. Most of the victim and witness information will be redacted as well.

        It might be cheaper to obtain the information the same way that the SJ Mercury News does, just make it up or spin it from half-truths and innuendo.

  8. Nate Jaeger,

    Your psych meds appear to be working at about the same level of effectiveness as the Oakland Raiders’ game plan. I suggest you put on your safety helmet and take the bus to the psych unit for a brain cleanse.

  9. S Randall,

    You keep running away from your own inane conclusions. In response to the post and my first comment you concluded that it wasn’t a “good story for either the 49ers or the SJPD,” completely ignoring two things: the 49ers did nothing wrong (and were only smeared because that’s what the media does to attract attention), and neither did the SJPD (which you have decided did something wrong). The fact that a man innocent of any wrongdoing (other than falling within the D.A.’s draconian domestic violence protocols) was arrested DESPITE Pritchard’s presence at the scene (so much for his influencing the investigation), and that the assault against him (by his fiancé) was overlooked in all the headline-making stories, renders your conclusions indefensible.

    Now you accuse me of defending Sgt. Pritchard. Where? All I have suggested is that his actions, no matter right or wrong, were hardly sufficient to constitute a black eye for SJPD (which is exactly what you implied).

    Lastly, have you been diagnosed with a reading comprehension problem or has your condition been tragically overlooked? Mr. McDonald was never accused of getting too friendly with anyone; what was alleged was that a female was getting too friendly with him, a not uncommon occurrence in the life of a professional athlete.

    • I’m sure you’re not a cop. If you were a cop, you’d want this to be forgotten about as soon as possible.

      So, what’s your deal?

  10. S Randall,

    My deal? Simple: I react to the news as if truth and objectivity still had a place in public discourse (in other words, I practice 21st century intolerance).

    • Mr. FinFan, sir. I am confused. Maybe you can help me. I did go to college but I did not major in “Victimology” and that may be why this situation is beyond my understanding. Is this the “algebra” of the matter?

      Ray McDonald + hysterical female+ no evidence of a crime = Guilty of domestic violence

      Using these same variables in a second equation I got:

      OJ + 2 corpses + blood everywhere = Innocent

      Is my math correct? I think those were the same answers the media got, but it is an old textbook.

  11. Thanks for this link… We should all be asking the media (SJI’s Jennifer Wadsworth and so many others) to substantiate the allegation that Wadsworth and others continue to proclaim:

    “…According to the DA’s office, the case was complicated because a San Jose police officer—Sgt. Sean Pritchard, who was working a private security gig on the side for the 49ers—was already at McDonald’s home when authorities arrived on scene…”

    I won’t dispute whether or not Pritchard was or wasn’t working as an agent of the 49ers… but I will challenge the assertion that Wadsworth attributes to “THE DA’s OFFICE that, “(Pritchard) was already at McDonald’s home when authorities arrived on scene.”

    The DA’s report doesn’t say that and, SJPD’s IA investigation hasn’t been made public. So one of two things is going on here. Either there is a “leak” OR Jennifer Wadsworth is MAKING IT UP!

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