MLB’s New Domestic-Violence Rules Give Commissioner Discretion

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Major League Baseball and its players’ union adopted domestic-violence policies that set no minimum or maximum penalties but leave all punishment decisions in the hands of the commissioner.

The Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy announced Friday applies only to major league players. The commissioner’s office said it will implement additional policies to cover minor leaguers as well as MLB and club staff members.

The Major League Baseball Players Association will create a domestic-abuse policy for its staff as well.

“Major League Baseball and its clubs are proud to adopt a comprehensive policy that reflects the gravity and the sensitivities of these significant societal issues,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “We believe that these efforts will foster not only an approach of education and prevention but also a united stance against these matters throughout our sport and our communities.”

A player accused of domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse may be placed on paid administrative leave for up to a week while allegations are investigated before making a disciplinary decision.

The policies giving the commissioner authority to impose discipline aren’t dependent on whether the player is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime.

“Players are husbands, fathers, sons and boyfriends, and as such want to set an example that makes clear that there is no place for domestic abuse in our society,” MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said in a statement. “We are hopeful that this new comprehensive, collectively bargained policy will deter future violence, promote victim safety and serve as a step toward a better understanding of the causes and consequences of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.”

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