NEW YORK (KDKA/AP) – A former FBI director hired to look into how the NFL pursued evidence in the Ray Rice abuse case says the league should have investigated more thoroughly before it initially punished the player.
“The NFL should have done more with the information it had and should have taken additional steps to obtain all available information about the Feb. 15 incident,” Robert S. Mueller III said in a statement after releasing his report.READ MORE: Sabrina Spellman Makes An Appearance On The CW's Riverdale; Kiernan Shipka Reveals 'Fans Will Get Some Clarity'
Mueller said he can find no evidence the league received the video showing Rice striking his fiancee in a casino elevator before it was published online in September. A law enforcement official showed The Associated Press videos of the incident and said he mailed a DVD to NFL headquarters in April.
The report said a review of phone records and emails of NFL employees in New York backs up statements from Commissioner Roger Goodell that nobody had seen the video before the league initially suspended Rice.
The private investigation with no legal authority did not include any contact with the law enforcement official who showed the AP video of the incident. The officer backed up his claims by showing the AP a 12-second voicemail from an NFL office number dated April 9, in which a woman verifies receipt of the video and says: “You’re right, it’s terrible.”
The official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to share the video, says he took steps to avoid being found or identified by the NFL.
Mueller’s report details some of the efforts the NFL made in obtaining the video, but said the league should have taken additional steps to find out what happened inside the elevator.
“League investigators did not contact any of the police officers who investigated the incident, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, or the Revel to attempt to obtain or view the in-elevator video or to obtain other information,” the report said. “No one from the League asked Rice or his lawyer whether they would make available for viewing the in-elevator video they received as part of criminal discovery in early April.”
The report also said the league didn’t follow up on initial conversations with the Ravens to determine whether the team had more information.
The official showed the AP multiple videos from the casino the night Rice was arrested. Those videos included security cameras from inside and outside the elevator and two cellphone videos that included some audio.
The league said it considered the video published by TMZ in September to be new evidence meriting an indefinite suspension. Its emergence drew renewed backlash to the league from women’s organizations, members of Congress and players – all calling for more detail on how the NFL handled the case.READ MORE: 2 Dogs Found Shot To Death In Westmoreland County
Following the release, Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II, and New York Giants President John Mara released the following statement:
“On behalf of the owners of the thirty-two National Football League teams, we would like to thank Director Mueller and his staff for the work they have put into this investigation.
“Mr. Mueller’s report is detailed, extensive and thorough. His investigators reviewed millions of documents, emails and text messages. Investigators searched the computers and phones of Commissioner Goodell, senior NFL executives, people in the mailroom, and others who might have information about the in-elevator video.
“After interviewing more than two hundred people, including every woman who worked at the NFL at the time the alleged call was made acknowledging receipt of the in-elevator video, and after an exhaustive forensic search of all electronic records, the investigators found no evidence that anyone in the League received or viewed the in-elevator video prior to its release. The investigators also found no evidence of a woman at the League acknowledging receipt of the video in a voicemail message.
“The investigators also identified a “weakness” – as they call it – in the League’s longstanding practice of deferring to the criminal justice system when matters like this arise. Mr. Mueller concludes that the League should have conducted a more substantial independent investigation of this matter and he has made six recommendations. This morning, we spoke to Commissioner Goodell about these recommendations. We want to review them and understand them in greater detail. We look forward to moving forward on this.
“The report also states that the Associated Press declined to cooperate with the investigation.
“As owners, we are the first to agree that the NFL did not have a sufficient policy in place to deal with players or other personnel accused of domestic violence. As leaders of this sport, it is our responsibility to recognize the pain domestic violence causes to families in our league and in our society. We were slow to react, and in the case of Ray Rice, the original punishment was insufficient. In addition, the steps taken by the NFL to investigate this matter were inadequate. Since then, a new policy concerning domestic violence and other rules for conduct violations have been put into place. We believe these new policies are tough and appropriate.
“This matter has tarnished the reputation of the NFL due to our failure to hand out proper punishments. It has been a wake-up call to all involved and we expect the changes that have been made will lead to improvements in how any similar issues are handled in the future.
“It is clear to us that Commissioner Goodell was forthright in the statements he made to the owners about this matter, and we have every confidence that Roger Goodell is the right person to lead the league as we move forward.”
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(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)