Chicago Bears Release Ray McDonald After Domestic Violence Arrest — The Latest Test For The NFL

Chicago Bears defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested for domestic violence Monday morning, becoming the latest player thrust into the media spotlight that has been illuminating football's less-talked-about culture over the last year. Law enforcement officials in Santa Clara, California, confirmed to NFL.com that McDonald was taken into custody on misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment charges. Authorities released McDonald later on Monday after making bail, but shortly after his release, the defensive end became the latest football player to experience the league's newfound zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence.

The Chicago Bears released McDonald from the team Monday afternoon. "We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in a statement. "He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him."

The NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, have yet to make a public statement about McDonald's arrest. At this time, the NFL has not penalized McDonald.

According to the police report, authorities were called to McDonald's Northern California home at 3:48 a.m. Monday morning. The 30-year-old defensive lineman allegedly assaulted a woman holding a baby, police said.

Chicago Bears senior writer Larry Mayer reported that McDonald had already fled the scene by the time police arrived. He was arrested a few hours later at the home of NFL player Justin Smith, McDonald's former teammate on the San Francisco 49ers.

This is not McDonald's first arrest on suspicion of domestic violence. The defensive lineman was arrested in August 2014 for allegedly assaulting his fiancee. However, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against McDonald following an investigation, which resulted in "insufficient evidence," authorities said.

“All domestic violence complaints deserve our concern, sensitivity and careful review,” said District Attorney Jeff Rosen in November, when the police investigation and legal review was completed. “After our thorough review of all the facts, we do not have evidence sufficient to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. McDonald committed a crime against Jane Doe."

The 49ers added in a statement at the time that domestic violence is "important to us, as it is throughout society." Team management said it took the investigation and allegations "seriously, just as we have taken the principles of due process seriously."

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But in December, the 49ers released McDonald following yet another criminal investigation, this time probing an allegation of sexual assault that reportedly occurred at his home on Dec. 14. The 49ers ended their relationship with the defensive lineman the day the San Jose Police Department announced McDonald was a suspect in the sexual assault investigation and a search warrant had been obtained for his home.

"This is about a pattern of poor behavior," said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke in a statement made in December. "We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions."

Court documents revealed text message exchanges between McDonald and the alleged victim, who said she did not remember the encounter because she was intoxicated and hit her head near McDonald's pool on Dec. 14. She said she woke up in the player's bed, half-clothed. McDonald told authorities the sex was consensual. Police eventually declined to press criminal charges stemming from the sexual assault allegation, and McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit against the alleged victim.

In December, the NFL said it would conduct its own investigation of McDonald's alleged sexual assault. The league declined to penalize McDonald then, believing he did not violate the NFL's conduct code.

Despite his off-field allegations, McDonald was signed by the Chicago Bears in March. Shortly after signing the defensive end, Bears chairman George McCaskey told the media he consulted many people before hiring McDonald — except he did not consult the alleged victim of domestic violence. "An alleged victim, I think — much like anybody else who has a bias in this situation — there's a certain amount of discounting in what they have to say," McCaskey said at the time.

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