Elliott was accused of, but never charged with, domestic violence. More than a year later, the NFL gave him a six-game suspension, which he is appealing.
It took more than a year from the time Ezekiel Elliott was accused of domestic violence to the NFL handing him a six-game suspension. The details that have been made public have been confusing and ugly, and both sides have questioned the other’s credibility.
There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened between Elliott and the woman.
We do know Elliott wasn’t criminally charged in the case and has repeatedly denied the accusations. We also know the woman gave a false statement to police about one allegation she made against Elliott, but that the NFL’s investigation concluded she was telling the truth about three other claims of physical violence. The Columbus, Ohio, prosecutor who did not bring charges against Elliott also believed his alleged victim but suggested he did not have the evidence to pursue charges.
The point of this article is to sort out what has been made public and piece together a timeline based on police reports, witness statements, text messages, and the NFL’s findings. Not all information related to this case is public. Only the recorded police interviews from the alleged victim and one witness have been made available. The NFL’s 160-page investigation report has not been released, although snippets of it have been leaked to the press.
Elliott is only the third player — and the most recognizable name — to receive the baseline six-game suspension for domestic violence since the personal conduct policy was enacted in December 2014.
Now, the situation is threatening to turn into a long, even nastier battle, not just as Elliott fights the suspension but as the NFL and NFL Players Association engage in another power struggle over the league’s disciplinary process.
Feb. 12, 2016: Elliott’s accuser first calls the police
Elliott’s accuser called the Aventura Police Department in Florida after an argument with him. She said that Elliott, listed as a “friend (with benefits)” in the police report, pushed her against a wall, hurting her shoulder.
Elliott told police that the woman, who was visiting him from Ohio during his pre-draft training, was angry over a “social media incident” and in the ensuing argument he asked her to leave. He said he tried to lock himself in another room, but she grabbed his waist and he pushed her off of him.
The woman was examined by paramedics. There were no visible signs of injury and no other witnesses. No charges were filed. (Aventura police report)
April 28, 2016: Elliott gets drafted by Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys selected Elliott with the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NFL draft. He was the first running back taken. Team owner Jerry Jones later told USA Today that the subject of Elliott and women was not discussed during the lead-up to the draft.
July 16: Elliott returns to Columbus from Dallas
Elliott’s alleged victim picked him and his friend up from the airport on Saturday, July 16. The three went to Elliott’s apartment in Columbus that afternoon. This was confirmed by both the woman in an audio interview and Elliott’s friend. Later, they all went to a club, The Social Room, according to Elliott’s friend in a statement. He said the three headed back to Elliott’s apartment and were together until 3:30 a.m. on July 17. (Page 56 of public records from the Columbus City Attorney’s office)
July 17-22, 2016: Elliott’s accuser reports 5 instances of violence
Elliott’s alleged victim told police that he had abused her five times from early July 17 to July 22 in Columbus. The police interview took place on July 22, and was then followed by an interview with the intake unit of the prosecutor’s office that same day. The NFL determined Elliott had been violent in three instances that week. Elliott has denied he was ever abusive toward the woman.
Early morning Sunday, July 17: First alleged incident
What she told police: The woman claimed that Elliott attacked her at about 3 a.m. at his apartment after an argument about their “unhealthy relationship.” She said that Elliott frequently cheated on her and when she told him she had been with another man during one of their breaks, he tried to strike her. The woman had a bruise on her right forearm, which she said happened when she tried to block Elliott from hitting her in the face. (page 11)
In a written statement to Columbus police, she said, “this has previously happened as well multiple times in the past.” (page 3)
What she told the prosecutor’s office: In an interview with the intake unit at the prosecutor’s office — audio of which was obtained by SB Nation through the Columbus City Attorney’s office — she said that the abuse had happened before and she hadn’t reported it, other than the incident in Florida. She referred to Elliott as her ex-boyfriend “right now” and told the intake counselor she and Elliott had dated for about a year.
“He has lost control and has yanked me into the wall, busted the side of my jaw,” the alleged victim said. “My face is swollen and a little bit bruised.”
In the police report, there was no mention of Elliott choking her on this date, but there was in her interview. The woman told the intake counselor that when she asked why a girl was calling in the early-morning hours of July 17, between 3 and 5 a.m., Elliott called her a bitch and “came over to my side, dragged me out of the bed. And then he threw me up against the door in his bedroom. Then he placed his right hand around my neck and started choking me.”
Elliott’s accuser said the choking lasted between 20-30 seconds and after he let go, that’s when he tried to hit her in the face, which she blocked. She said she started crying and he asked if she was OK. She answered no, and he apologized, according to her interview. She said he then acted like nothing had happened and she tried to leave, but he didn’t want her to.
“I was scared he was going to touch me again, so I just listened and I laid back down,” the alleged victim told the prosecutor’s office. She said they then fell asleep.
Elliott’s accuser said they spent all day Sunday together at his apartment, even though she had told Elliott she wanted to leave. According to her account, Elliott wouldn’t let her leave or take her belongings.
What one witness told police: The friend of Elliott’s signed an affidavit stating he had stayed at the apartment with Elliott and the woman until 3:30 a.m. and did not witness a fight, nor “see any evidence of injury, bruising, or scrapes” on her. (page 57)
The NFL said Elliott was violent: The woman took photos of herself the day after the alleged incident. In messages handed over to the NFL, Elliott’s accuser texted the photos to her aunt along with a note that said “Absuive” [sic]. The NFL confirmed the timestamps based on forensic analysis. The investigators determined Elliott had used physical force with the woman, causing injuries to her “arms, neck and shoulders.” The two medical experts consulted by the NFL’s investigators said the injuries in the photos “appear recent and consistent with [the accuser’s] description of the incident and how it occurred.” (NFL’s letter to Elliott, page 3; via Pro Football Talk)
Late Sunday night to early Monday, July 18: Second alleged incident
What she told police: The woman said in the police report that the two had gone out separately Sunday night and Elliott became angry when he arrived back at his apartment before she did. When she returned early Monday morning, she said that Elliott had choked her, leaving a bruise on her neck. (page 11)
What she told the prosecutor’s office: She told the intake counselor that when she returned, Elliott threatened to smash her car windows and headlights, and then he grabbed his keys that she had in her hand and he twisted her left arm, only letting go when his friend told him to stop. She said that gave her a bruise.
The woman said they continued to argue, in front of Elliott’s friend, about another guy she had been involved with while she and Elliott were broken up. She told police that the reason she and Elliott got back together in the first place was because he texted her frequently with messages like “I can’t lose you, I love you.”
Elliott’s accuser said he tried to leave but couldn’t get a friend to pick him up, so the two went to bed. She said she stayed and was “still in fear.”
What two witnesses told police: A statement from Elliott’s friend said that he stayed overnight with them and did not witness an altercation. (page 57)
A coworker of the woman’s signed an affidavit that said he hung out with her at a pool early the next day and did not see any marks on the accuser, who had been wearing “the equivalent of a bikini.” (page 66)
Late Monday night to Tuesday, July 19: Third alleged incident
What she told police: In the police report, the alleged victim said Elliott threw her against a wall at his apartment after she returned from a night out and told her she was “lucky that he has not killed her yet.” (page 11)
In her written statement, Elliott’s accuser said he choked her, smacked her face, and called her his “puppy dog.” She said he also apologized and called it “tough love,” but said it wouldn’t happen again. (page 47)
What she told the prosecutor’s office: During her intake interview, there was no mention of choking, throwing her against a wall, or him saying she was “lucky that he has not killed her yet.” The alleged victim said everything was fine during the day Monday, but early Tuesday morning, they had another argument. She said he told her, “You’re in my house, you’re my puppy dog” and when she tried to leave, he replied, “no, sit the fuck down.”
Then she said Elliott grabbed her, threw her on the bed, and told her not to move, taking away both her phone and her car keys. When she tried to leave, she said Elliott “aggressively” poked her cheek when she tried to avoid looking at him. She said he also grabbed and smacked her face, which was “really sore.”
The woman also said Elliott told her “We’re spending the whole day together. You have no choice but to.” She said they spent all day Tuesday together and he cried and apologized, telling her “it’s just tough love. I love you too much” several times.
What one witness said: A statement from Elliott’s friend said he came back to Elliott’s apartment alone at 3:15 a.m. and the alleged victim was waiting there. He said the woman stayed over and never mentioned any fights or injuries. The friend said Elliott didn’t return home until 8 or 9 a.m. Tuesday. (page 58)
The NFL said Elliott was violent: Two days later, she took photos of herself again and texted them to her mom, confirmed by forensic analysis. The NFL investigation concluded Elliott caused injuries to the woman’s “face, arms, wrist and hands.” The two medical experts consulted by the NFL’s investigators said the injuries in the photos “appear recent and consistent with [the accuser’s] description of the incident and how it occurred.” (pages 3-4)
Late Wednesday night to early Thursday, July 21: Fourth alleged incident
What she told police: Elliott’s accuser told police that when she and Elliott arrived at his apartment after a night out, he “lost it” when she asked him a question. She claimed Elliott threw her against a wall, grabbed her throat, yanked her by the left wrist, and then dragged her across the floor, giving her a rug burn on her right knee. (pages 11 and 48)
What she told the prosecutor’s office: In her intake interview, the alleged victim said Elliott threw her against a wall and she hit her head. “I felt dizzy,” she said.
Then, she said Elliott dragged her to the bedroom, telling her “don’t play with me.” He then tried to call the guy she had been seeing when she and Elliott were broken up, but the other guy didn’t answer, according to his accuser. She said she brought up Elliott’s past cheating.
“That’s when he grabs my neck, pins me down to the floor,” the alleged victim said during her interview. He gets on top of me, starts shaking me. I start gasping for breath.”
She said he then lifted her up and threw her on the bed. She claimed Elliott told her, “I’m not dealing with your dumb ass anymore“ and then “Try to leave and see what happens.” She told the intake counselor that she was too scared to leave.
What two witnesses told police: Elliott’s friend said he and Elliott were at a bar from about midnight until 2 a.m. Thursday. He said Elliott’s accuser met them there, and the three went back to Elliott’s place together. He claims the alleged victim was “too intoxicated to drive” and she stayed over. The friend’s signed affidavit stated he slept across the hall and never heard or saw anything violent occur. (page 59)
An Ohio State student who knew Elliott signed a sworn statement that said Elliott introduced him to the alleged victim late Wednesday night. The student did not observe any bruising on Elliott’s accuser and took photos with Elliott, the woman, and a few of Elliott’s friends early Thursday morning. The photos were attached to his affidavit. (page 65)
The NFL said Elliott was violent: In the afternoon, the woman took photos of her injuries and the ones that allegedly occurred on July 19. The NFL’s investigation ruled Elliott was responsible for injuries to alleged victim’s “face, neck, arms, knees and hips.” The two medical experts consulted by the NFL’s investigators said the injuries in the photos “appear recent and consistent with [the accuser’s] description of the incident and how it occurred.”
Thursday afternoon and evening, July 21: Elliott’s alleged victim talks about going to police
What she told the prosecutor’s office: Elliott’s accuser said she left Elliott’s place right after he did and that Elliott didn’t lay a hand on her that day. She said he told her, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
She said Elliott told her he was scared to be around her because he didn’t want to abuse her again. She claimed this was said via text messages. One of their text exchanges entered in evidence from that night read (page 36):
Later that night, she said she told him she had enough and was going to go to the police.
She also said Elliott texted to ask why she wasn’t celebrating his birthday (July 22) with him and that she didn’t love him. Another text exchange from that night read (page 37):
According to the alleged victim, Elliott Facetimed her and “told me I can get the police involved all I want. That he’s going to win” and that no one would believe her.
What Elliott said: Elliott said that his accuser was upset after he asked her to leave and told her that he couldn’t go out with him that night.
“Ok this is what you want? Ok then, I’m going to ruin your life. You will see. If I was you, I wouldn’t go out tonight,” she replied, according to documents obtained by the Star-Telegram.
Elliott also told the woman that she couldn’t come to his birthday party and she replied, “that’s worst decision you made in your life. I’m going to ruin you life now,” per the same documents.
What one witness said: The prosecutor’s office only recorded two interviews: the alleged victim and the friend of the alleged victim. The friend told the intake counselor that on Thursday afternoon, Elliott’s accuser showed her bruises, telling her Elliott had done it and it had been happening that week. The friend said Elliott’s accuser did not have the bruises last time they had seen each other, which was about 10 days before that day.
The accuser’s friend said the woman discussed her plan to file a police report and told her, “I don’t really know for sure if I want to do this because I know what the repercussions [are] but at the same time, this is not OK. I’m, like, honestly hurting.”
The friend said she would not be willing to testify if it had gone to trial because she was also a friend of Elliott’s.
Early morning Friday, July 22 (Elliott’s 21st birthday): Fifth alleged incident; Elliott’s accuser calls police
What she told police: Elliott’s accuser called Columbus police around 2:40 a.m. on Elliott’s 21st birthday. She told them that Elliott had attacked her while she was sitting in her car after he had requested she spend his birthday with him and stay the night.
Her written statement said Elliott cursed at her and “yanked my right arm and dragged me out of the car. Leaving my right hand/wrist bruised and red.” She was offered, but turned down, medical treatment. (page 49)
She also told police that Elliott, whom she said she had lived with from November 2015 to January 2016, had hit her several times over the past few days and had left bruises on her arm. In a call to 911 earlier that night, she referred to Elliott as “my boyfriend.” She said “he’s been doing it for the past five days” and had hit her “all over.”
Police took photos of visible injuries on the woman that day. She also posted on her Instagram account pictures of marks and bruises on her body with a caption that read:
“Just for every women [sic] out there getting abused it’s time to put a stop to it. This has been happening to me for months and it finally got out of control to where I was picked up and thrown across the room by my arms. Thrown into walls. Being choked to where I have to gasp for breath. Bruised everywhere, mentally and physically abused. It’s not okay. So I want each and everyone one [sic] of you girls to step away now from domestic violence. You’re worth so much more. I got told it was called “tough love” I’m sorry if you love someone you don’t touch your loved ones.”
What Elliott said: Elliott denied that he had assaulted her that night or previously. He said that he and his accuser never lived together and never dated, though they had a sexual relationship and he had paid her rent and co-signed for a car.
Elliott told police that his accuser got her bruises in a bar fight.
Elliott told the NFL investigation he was “100 percent certain” that his accuser told him the same day, “You are a black male athlete. I’m a white girl. They are not going to believe you,” according to documents obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
What witnesses told police: Four witnesses said they saw the interaction in the parking lot and Elliott did not touch the woman.
Elliott’s alleged victim’s friend — the same one who saw bruising on her Thursday afternoon — was listed as a witness and also said Elliott did not assault the woman that night. The witness signed an affidavit contradicting what her friend had told police. She also said her friend asked her to lie to police. (pages 62-63)
Records show Elliott’s accuser texted her friend “if they ask he dragged me out of my car” while she was talking to police. When her friend asked if she wanted to lie, Elliott’s accuser responded, “Yea.” (page 43)
In her statement, the friend said she was out to The Social Room that night with Elliott’s accuser. She said they left around 2 a.m. when another woman attacked Elliott’s accuser, with a face slap and hair-pulling. This was confirmed by other witnesses, including two police officers. The friend said she grabbed Elliott’s accuser by the waist to pull her back from the altercation.
After the fight was broken up about one minute later, the friend said she and Elliott’s accuser left to meet up with Elliott and some others at the place he was staying for his birthday. Elliott wasn’t there, but soon pulled up in a vehicle driven by a woman, later identified as a friend of Elliott’s and his designated driver for the night. Elliott’s accuser exited her vehicle and started yelling at Elliott and the driver, according to witnesses.
The alleged victim’s friend, Elliott, and two other witnesses all said in signed statements that his accuser had yelled at him that she was going to “ruin his career.”
What one witness told the prosecutor’s office: The alleged victim’s friend told the intake counselor that the two of them were at The Social Room and that Elliott had kicked them out of his private section.
She confirmed her early version of events, when she said another woman attacked her friend as they were leaving. She said no punches were thrown.
The friend said that when Elliott’s accuser approached Elliott and the woman driving his car, the two went around her and into the place he was staying. That’s when she called the police.
Intake counselor: So she didn’t call police because of something that had occurred when you guys went to the afterparty. She called the police because of what had happened before, right?
Accuser’s friend: Right, exactly.
The NFL agrees Elliott’s accuser lied to police: The NFL’s investigators interviewed witnesses about the fight outside The Social Room. They confirmed the friend’s statement, that Elliott’s alleged victim and the other woman did not punch each other.
Peter Harvey, one of four independent advisors to the investigation, acknowledged in a conference call that the alleged victim lied and asked her friend to lie about the events of July 22. “But as to other statements that she made, both to the Columbus DA as well as to NFL investigators, she was absolutely truthful about them,” Harvey said. (Harvey’s conference call)
What the police said: The police did not arrest Elliott due to “conflicting statements” and because they couldn’t verify if the two had ever lived together. They referred his accuser to the prosecutor’s office. (page 12)
July 22, 2016: The NFL confirms it will review the case
The NFL said that it would investigate the domestic violence allegations against Elliott:
Per an NFL spokesman, the Ezekiel Elliott matter will be reviewed under the NFL’s personal conduct policy
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) July 22, 2016
The league launches its own investigation into claims, even if a player isn’t charged with a crime.
July 25, 2016: Elliott’s accuser forwards the prosecutor’s office photographs of her injuries
The alleged victim sent the prosecutor’s office 20 photographs she had taken of her injuries. The photographs showed bruising on her hips, legs, neck, and arms, as well as several red marks on her right arm, hand, and neck.
Sept. 5, 2016: Elliott files harassment report against accuser
Elliott filed a report against his accuser to the Frisco (Texas) Police over an incident from two days prior. In the report, Elliott claimed she called him more than 50 times on Sept. 3 and that he told her she wasn’t supposed to contact him. He said she left a voicemail, which police recommended he keep.
Elliott also said she had hacked his email in July to get in touch with women Elliott had been involved with. Elliott said she had been calling the other women to say “untruthful things that can hurt his image,” per the police report. (Frisco police report)
Sept. 6, 2016: Columbus prosecutor’s office announces no charges against Elliott
The City’s Attorney Office, Prosecutor Division in Columbus, Ohio, released a statement saying it would not pursue domestic violence charges against Elliott “primarily due to conflicting and inconsistent information.” The prosecutor’s office reviewed the police report, witness statements, affidavits, medical records, photographs, and text messages.
Although Elliott was not charged, the NFL confirmed its investigation would continue to determine if he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
“It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime,” the personal conduct policy states. “We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.”
Sept. 21, 2016: Elliott’s accuser texts friend about blackmailing Elliott over sex tapes
As part of the NFL’s investigation, Elliott’s accuser turned over phone records. Included in the league’s 160-page was an exchange from September between the woman and a friend where they discuss using a sex tape to blackmail Elliott, according to documents obtained by Yahoo Sports.
Elliott’s accuser: What if I sold mine and Ezekiel’s sex videos
Her friend: We’d all be millionaires
Her friend: We could black mail him w that
Elliott’s accuser: I want to bro
Her friend: Let’s do it
Elliott’s accuser: Scared
Elliott’s accuser also registered “ezekielelliott sex vids” as an email address.
Per Yahoo, the league asked the woman about the texts and she admitted to the email address and having sex tapes of the two on her phone. However, she told the investigators that her purpose for having them wasn’t to blackmail Elliott.
October 2016: Elliott meets with the NFL investigators
The NFL’s investigators interviewed Elliott in late October, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
October 2016: Jerry Jones confronts NFL lead investigator Lisa Friel
At the NFL owners’ fall meeting, Jerry Jones was overheard loudly telling NFL investigator Lisa Friel, “Your bread and butter is going to get both of us thrown out on the street,” according to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham.
Jones later downplayed the encounter, saying the music at the hotel bar forced him to raise his voice. He told ESPN that he and Friel had a “good discussion.”
Oct. 31, 2016: Columbus prosecutor believes Elliott was violent with his accuser
Columbus prosecutor Robert S. Tobias told USA Today in an email that he believed Elliott had been violent with his accuser, but didn’t think his office had the evidence to pursue charges:
“I personally believe that there were a series of interactions between Mr. Elliott and (his accuser) where violence occurred,” Tobias wrote, via USA Today. “However, given the totality of the circumstances, I could not firmly conclude exactly what happened. Saying something happened versus having sufficient evidence to criminally charge someone are two completely different things.”
Tobias later told the NFL investigators that he did not think the woman lied to his office. He said “we generally believed her for all of the incidents.” (page 4)
March 11, 2017: Elliott pulls down a woman’s top at a St. Patrick’s Day parade
Elliott was caught on camera pulling down a woman’s top during a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dallas. The woman’s bare breast was exposed in public. No charges were filed, but the NFL reviewed the incident and spoke to the woman. In its letter to Elliott, the NFL said “your behavior during this event was inappropriate and disturbing, and reflected a lack of respect for women.”
Although the incident did not factor into his suspension, the league told him “it suggests a pattern of poor judgment and behavior.” (page 5)
May 2017: NFLPA turns over Elliott’s phone records
In May, the NFLPA, along with Elliott’s representatives, gave into the investigation’s “longstanding request” for Elliott’s phone records, per a USA Today report.
June 26, 2017: Elliott meets with independent advisors
Elliott and his team met with the investigation’s four outside advisors: Peter Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general; Kenneth Houston, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Tonya Lovelace, a domestic violence expert and CEO of the Women of Color Network, Inc.; and Mary Jo White, a former U.S Attorney.
“We reviewed over 100 exhibits provided by the NFL. We reviewed just hundreds — a couple hundred pages of statements and information, and we reviewed extensively submissions offered by Mr. Elliott’s representatives as well as the information that the NFL gathered,” Lovelace told SB Nation.
Elliott told them his version of what happened the week of July 17, 2016. His representatives also discussed any concerns they had about the advisory committee’s investigation reports, which had been passed along to them on June 7.
Later, the four advisors all separately met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to give him their opinions of the case. Goodell, who would make the decision about whether or not to suspend Elliott, was not present for Elliott’s meeting or any other hearings about Elliott, according to a Deadspin report.
Elliott’s accuser fully cooperated with the NFL’s investigation. She talked to league investigators “multiple times,” according to the Washington Post. However, Goodell did not meet with her, per Pro Football Talk.
July 22, 2017: Elliott’s accuser posts about her “very toxic relationship” with Elliott
Elliott’s accuser referenced her relationship with Elliott, and the police report she filed a year before, on social media.
“Exactly 1 year ago today my life changed forever,” she wrote, via TMZ. “Loving someone as much as I did, putting my all in no matter what happened. I finally got the strength to be the strong woman I was and got myself out of a very toxic relationship. Ladies never think you’re too in love or too scared to leave because at one point that was me. There’s plenty of opportunities out there for you. Love yourself first. Speak up and stop domestic violence.”
July 23, 2017: Jerry Jones says there’s no evidence against Elliott
At the start of training camp, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones publicly supported Elliott when asked about the investigation.
“I have reviewed everything. There is absolutely nothing, not one thing I’ve seen that has anything to do with domestic violence. I’ve seen nothing,” he told USA Today.
Aug. 11, 2017: NFL hands Elliott a six-game suspension
The NFL announced that it suspended Elliott for the first six games of the 2017 season. After the yearlong investigation, the league determined Elliott had been physical with his accuser three times during the week of July 17.
What the NFL said
The NFL’s chief disciplinary officer, B. Todd Jones, sent Elliott the letter that detailed the reasons for the suspension. The decision to suspend Elliott for six games was solely Goodell’s.
In the letter to Elliott, the league said the investigators talked to more than a dozen witnesses and examined photographs, thousands of texts, and metadata that allowed them to see when photos were taken.
Harvey said in his conference call that not all witnesses cooperated. A number of witnesses were offered affidavits but declined interview requests for the investigation. Harvey said that “raised suspicions” with the committee. He did not say which witnesses they were. Harvey also said that “at least one of the affidavits” was different than the statement given to the NFL’s investigators. Again, Harvey did not give names. (Harvey conference call)
The league said Goodell’s decision was based on the alleged victim’s injuries before July 22. The letter told Elliott that Goodell found “there has been no persuasive evidence presented on your behalf with respect to how [the accuser]’s obvious injuries were incurred other than conjecture.” (pages 4-5)
Harvey agreed. He thought Elliott’s representatives gave flimsy possible reasons for his alleged victim’s injuries.
“We also examined the arguments made by Mr. Elliott’s representatives, and the arguments seemed to be theoretical. They did not seem to be supported by any witness, any document, any other substantive evidence,” Harvey said. (Harvey conference call)
What Elliott and his reps said
Hours after the suspension was announced, Elliott’s attorneys, Frank Salzano and Scott Rosenblum, said they would fight it.
“The NFL’s findings are replete with factual inaccuracies and erroneous conclusions and it ‘cherry picks’ so called evidence to support its conclusion while ignoring other critical evidence,” Salzano and Rosenblum said in a statement, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
After pointing out the accuser’s false statement to police, Elliott’s attorneys added, “the NFL’s own medical experts concluded that many of her injuries predated the week in question and likely occurred during a period of time when Mr. Elliott was not in contact with the accuser. During the upcoming weeks and through the appeal a slew of additional credible and controverting evidence will come to light.”
Elliott also posted a personal statement on his Twitter account about the suspension:
— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) August 12, 2017
Aug. 15, 2017: Elliott officially files an appeal
On behalf of Elliott, the NFLPA filed an appeal of his six-game suspension.
The strategy for Elliott’s appeal became clear: His lawyers would try to establish that his accuser was not a credible source.
Leaks from the NFL’s investigation report, including her threats to ruin his career, and her texts with a friend about potentially blackmailing Elliott, came out around the same time. The investigative report also noted that Lisa Friel “was “unable to give an clear endorsement of [the accuser]’s credibility because she repeatedly misled investigators,” per documents obtained by the Star-Telegram.
Aug. 16, 2017: Goodell appoints Henderson to hear appeal; NFL and NFLPA trade insults
Goodell had the option to hear Elliott’s appeal himself or appoint a designee. He chose to name Harold Henderson as the arbiter of the appeal hearing. In recent years, Henderson oversaw the appeal hearings for high-profile cases involving Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson.
Later that day, the NFL and NFLPA started attacking each other publicly. First the NFL accused the NFLPA of victim-shaming, and then the NFLPA forcefully denied it.
Aug. 29, 2017: Elliott’s appeal hearing is held in New York
Elliott attended the appeal hearing in New York. However, Henderson will not make the accuser attend or testify, according to Pro Football Talk. He also refused a request from Elliott’s team to make notes from the accuser’s interviews with the NFL available during the hearing.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that followed the NFL’s typical process and that accusers are normally not present during appeals. Rapoport also reported that forensic evidence from the investigation will be permitted Tuesday.
The NFLPA brought on attorney Jeffrey Kessler to handle Elliott’s appeal, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Kessler most recently represented Tom Brady during his Deflategate appeal.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported early Tuesday evening that the appeal would be heard into Wednesday.
The appeals hearing for #Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott will continue into Day 2, source said. Still ongoing. No end in sight.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 29, 2017
ESPN’s Dan Graziano later reported the hearing will now last three days, into Thursday. The NFL changed its mind and will allow one witness, though not the alleged victim, to be interviewed via phone on Thursday.
Those testifying Tuesday included Elliott, a forensic expert brought in by the NFLPA, and Kia Wright Roberts, the NFL’s director of investigations, per Graziano.
Aug. 30, 2017: Elliott’s appeal heads into second day
According to a source of ESPN’s Josina Anderson, the NFL’s investigation had “enormous showings on inconsistencies” at Elliott’s appeal.