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The National Football League’s new senior adviser for sexual assault and domestic violence met with an alleged victim of a sexual assault by a player for the first time on Monday, the woman’s attorney says.
The woman, who claims current Dallas Cowboys safety C.J. Spillman sexually assaulted her in California last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, was questioned for five and a half hours by the NFL’s new adviser Lisa Friel, the alleged victim’s lawyer Gloria Allred says.
The meeting is significant because it is the first time Friel, a former Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor, has met with an alleged victim since her mid-September appointment.
“It was long, intense and detailed. My client answered all the questions she was asked,” Allred told THR in a phone call after the meeting. “I have to wonder if C.J. Spillman will have to answer five and a half hours of questions, or any questions at all.”
Allred represents two different women who have reported assaults by Spillman to the police in two separate instances. She says the women contacted her separately and have never met. The woman who was questioned by the NFL on Monday is a massage therapist who says Spillman groped her and tried to force her to perform oral sex in her Santa Clara, Calif., studio, according to the New York Daily News. Allred declined to comment on details of her client or the assault. No charges were filed in the 2013 incident.
Separately, a woman in Texas told police on Sept. 20 that Spillman had raped her. Spillman played the next day. Allred says the alleged rape victim has not met with the prosecutor yet, so it’s not known whether charges will be filed. One day prior to the alleged rape, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference to talk about the league’s treatment of sexual assault cases.
Irrespective of criminal charges, “the NFL is investigating to see if their own personal conduct policy has been violated. Essentially, they say the players are held to a higher standard, even there are no charges or prosecution,” Allred says. “They can be disciplined even if there’s never an arrest. There’s a different burden of proof.”
Friel was hired as the NFL has been under fire for mishandling issues of sexual assault and domestic violence since the scandal involving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. After almost three decades serving as a prosecutor, Friel joined T&M Protection Resources as an executive who deals with sexual misconduct in schools and workplaces. She flew out from New York with a female colleague at T&M to question Spillman’s alleged victim in Allred’s Los Angeles office, Allred said.
“They appear to be taking it seriously, but they have to do a lot more,” Allred said. “They didn’t give me a time frame. We are the first test. Are they going to do something or is this just PR and spin control?”
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