Charges Dismissed After Linebacker's Ex-Girlfriend Admits to Lying About Abuse


San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster will be able to rejoin the team and practice with his teammates next Thursday after felony domestic violence charges were dismissed.

Foster was charged in April with domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, in connection with an alleged incident on February 11. Ennis called police that night, saying that Foster dragged her out of the house by her hair, threw her on the ground, spit on her, threw a dog at her, and punched her in the head 8-10 times, rupturing her eardrum. She told investigators that he owned several semi-automatic weapons. 

Police recovered one firearm that had been purchased legally in Alabama, but which was illegal to own in California.

By February 12, Foster had been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, making criminal threats, and possessing an assault weapon. He was subsequently released on $75,000 bond.

On April 12, Foster was charged with three felonies: domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon.

Within two weeks, Ennis admitted to police that she made the whole thing up. She said that Foster had never been violent against her, and that she made the whole thing up because she was angry that he broke up with her. She released a video of a road rage incident that occurred on February 10, in which she and another woman were involved in a physical altercation. It was that fight that caused her ruptured eardrum.

Despite Ennis's admission, the charges remained. 

On May 17--nearly a month after her admission--Ennis testified against the advice of her attorney at a preliminary hearing to determine whether Foster would stand trial for the three felonies. She again said that the lied to police about being assaulted, and that she did so because she was "p-ssed" and wanted to "end" Foster and his career. 

She further admitted that it was not the first time she made a false police report accusing an ex-boyfriend of domestic violence. She did the same thing in 2011 when a then-boyfriend broke up with her. 

Ennis testified that after her testimony was over, she was going to check into a clinic for treatment for unspecified issues.

And still, Foster had to wait. It wasn't until May 23, nearly a week after Ennis's testimony, that a judge determined whether or not Foster would face trial for charges that were twice admitted to be fabricated. 

California Superior Court Judge Nona Klippen determined that there was not enough evidence to bind Foster over for trial. The two domestic violence-related charges were dismissed, and the gun charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

Klippen determined that the injuries Ennis sustained were more consistent with a roadside fight with another woman than being struck in the head 10 times by a professional NFL linebacker. She said there was "insufficient cause" to believe either domestic violence charge "rose to the level" of probable cause, and prosecutors would be unable to meet the burden of proof at trial.

Judge Klippen also granted a defense motion to reduce the gun charge to a misdemeanor, because while possession of the firearm is illegal in California, such possession does not violate federal gun laws, and the firearm was legally purchased in another state.

Ennis's false allegations harm more than her intended target. Not only did a man spend several months of his life and thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs fighting a false criminal charge, but Ennis's claims jeopardize the credibility of true victims of domestic violence.

Nancy Armour of USA Today Sports writes, ". . . [U]nless you’ve been there, most people can’t fathom a woman (or man) sticking around after they’ve been beaten. They don’t understand there are a multitude of reasons why, with fear, shame, kids, love and economics being just a few of them." She calls Ennis selfish, saying she "only gives fuel to the doubters."

In a case like this, there are no winners. Even when the accuser admits to her wrongdoing, even with the wrongfully accused is vindicated, there is no justice--especially for the countless true victims whose stories will be cast into doubt because, as Ennis proved, some people do lie about abuse.

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