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Ravens' Rice indicted for 3rd-degree aggravated assault

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Mar 27 2014 05:05:06 PM MDT
Updated On: Mar 27 2014 11:43:19 PM MDT
Ray Rice runs throw defender

Patrick Smith/Reuters

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indicted by a grand jury on a third-degree aggravated assault charge for allegedly striking his fiancee unconscious last month, Atlantic County, N.J., prosecutors announced Thursday.

Rice was arrested and charged with simple assault-domestic violence on Feb. 15 after a physical altercation with his fiancee, Janay Palmer, at the Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City. Palmer also was charged with simple assault.

The simple assault-domestic violence charge against Palmer was dismissed.

Prosecutors took the case to a grand jury, which returned a more serious charge of aggravated assault. The charge carries a potential penalty of three to five years in prison, officials said.

"This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident," the Ravens said in a team statement.

A video obtained and posted online by TMZ showed Rice lifting Palmer by her arms out of an elevator and laying her on the floor. Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, has said the footage is authentic but incomplete.

Diamondstein told The Press of Atlantic City on Thursday that neither Rice nor Palmer wants to move forward with the case.

"On behalf of Ray Rice, we vehemently deny that Mr. Rice committed an aggravated assault," Diamondstein told The Press of Atlantic City. "Both Mr. Rice and Miss Palmer are together, they are happy and they're in counseling."

Rice, 27, signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the Ravens before the 2012 season. He is coming off his worst season, rushing for only 660 yards and averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti previously called Rice's arrest "embarassing and disappointing" but vowed to stick by the three-time All-Pro running back.

"Ray will be here," Bisciotti said this week in an interview with the Baltimore Sun at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. "This is a singular moment six years after we drafted him. It's embarrassing for him and his fiancee. It is especially hard to see somebody that is proud of his reputation have to take this kind of public relations hit."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed his displeasure on Tuesday over having three of his players arrested in a 22-day period, calling the arrests "unacceptable" and "disappointing,"

Besides Rice's arrest, backup wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for possession of marijuana on Feb. 21 and backup offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of battery in a bar fight on March 9.

"It's unacceptable. It's disappointing," Harbaugh said at the NFL owners meetings. "But you also separate the person from the activity, and redemption is something that we think is important as well.

"If there is ever a point in time when we feel that person has lost value for our team, starting with football or because of their character, then you move on from those guys. But those guys aren't to that point."

Just as Bisciotti did, Harbaugh reaffirmed his support for Rice.

"He will be part of our team," Harbaugh said. "He's a person of character. The thing that's really important is to be able to support the person without condoning the action.

"He makes a mistake. There's no justifying what happened. When you drink too much in public, those kind of things happen."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the league was continuing to monitor Rice's case, indicating no timetable or decision on whether Rice will be punished by the league.