Prosecutor defends PTI decision for Rice
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey prosecutor defended his office's handling of the charges against former NFL star Ray Rice to a newspaper Wednesday and said that allowing him into a pretrial intervention program was done after carefully considering the facts of the case, state law and hearing from the victim.
Rice wouldn't have faced jail time if he had gone to trial on third-degree aggravated assault charges after he punched his then-fiancee and knocked her unconscious, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain told the Press of Atlantic City.
He said that the video evidence of Rice punching Janay Palmer would have been enough to convict him, but that it wouldn't have been fair to put her through the trial for a probationary sentence.
Palmer has defended her husband, while state lawmakers have asked for a review of the decision to allow Rice into the diversion program.
"I'm very glad that people are repulsed by the video, because this type of violence is an ugly, ugly thing," McClain told the newspaper of the video showing Rice punching Palmer that was released Monday by TMZ. "But the fact that this assault was on video makes it no more nor any less ugly than those hundreds of domestic violence situations where similar violence was inflicted on a victim and it's not captured on videotape."
He also said that the case wasn't handled differently because Rice was the defendant.
"Just like it is not just or fair to go easier on somebody because of who they are, neither is it fair or just to go heavier on somebody because of who they are," McClain told the newspaper. "I felt, and still feel, this disposition was appropriate."
Rice and Palmer were charged with assault after the Feb. 15 incident at Revel Casino Hotel. Charges against Palmer, who was knocked unconscious, were later dropped. Palmer apologized for her role in the incident, and Rice said his actions were inexcusable.
In May, Rice was accepted into the pretrial intervention program, which lets defendants avoid criminal records if they follow certain conditions. He agreed to anger management counseling and paid $125 in fines.
The state guidelines for the intervention program say any defendant charged with a crime is eligible but the nature of the offense is a factor in deciding eligibility. It notes that those charged with deliberately committing violence or threatening to do so "should generally be rejected."
State Senate President Steve Sweeney called Tuesday for the state attorney general to review the decision to allow Rice to avoid prosecution and the criteria of the program.
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