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Gulati writes senator, defends handling of Solo case

The United States Soccer Federation issued a response to a letter written by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urging U.S. Soccer to investigate domestic violence charges against Hope Solo and “reconsider Solo’s role as an active member of Team USA.”

[MORE: Complete coverage of 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup]

Blumenthal wrote the letter on Wednesday in response to a recent ESPN report that shed some new light on Solo’s case. In a lengthy response issued on Friday, just minutes after the U.S. played Sweden to a scoreless draw in Winnipeg, Manitoba, U.S. Soccer defended its position and argued that it did in fact investigate details surrounding the case.

From U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati:

“The suggestion by certain media outlets that the Federation failed to investigate the initial allegations is inaccurate. Following the June 2014 incident, the Federation sought to gain access to the police report, witness statements and other associated materials. But, as a consequence of the Washington Criminal Records Privacy Act, we were advised by the Kirkland Police Department that they could not provide such materials directly but that we could request materials through a public records act request. We made such a request and received and reviewed a redacted partial-copy (26 of 52 pages) of the police report.

[We understand from various news reports that certain members of the media may have obtained access to a supplemental police report and certain testimony provided by Ms. Solo’s half-sister and her son. The Federation was not afforded access to such information, and the testimony of the complaining witnesses now being quoted was ordered sealed by the court.]

We also conducted interviews with Ms. Solo. Ms. Solo denied, and continues to deny, the public reports of the incident and claimed, quite vehemently, that her response was in self-defense.

The Federation chose not to request interviews of the complaining witnesses, Ms. Solo’s half-sister and her sister’s son. Based on the public reports of the incident and the partial police report, we understood that the complaining witnesses would likely contradict Ms. Solo’s version of events with equal vehemence. Further, based on an internal review of the partial police report the Federation received, we noted (as did the court) inconsistencies in the statements of the complaining witnesses. Thus, the Federation knew it would be faced with a “he said, she said” situation where the credibility of the witnesses would be determinative.

At that point in time, criminal charges were pending against Ms. Solo. Thus, based on the advice of our counsel, the Federation decided to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings. Indeed, it is not only common, but standard practice, for civil proceedings to be stayed when criminal charges are pending in order to protect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the criminally accused.

As you know, the charges against Ms. Solo were dismissed earlier this year. The charges were dismissed, not based on some minor “procedural” missteps as suggested in several media reports, but rather because the conduct of the prosecutor and its witnesses denied Ms. Solo her constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. Among other things, in dismissing the charges, the court found that:

– the complaining witnesses refused to answer questions with respect to “medical prescriptions [one of the complainants] was taking and apparently under the influence of at the time of the alleged assault as well as [his] medical and mental status at the time of the alleged assault and the first interview”;

– the complaining witnesses “declined to appear for a Court ordered second interview”;

– the complaining witnesses “failed to appear for a second time for the Court ordered interviews”;

– the complaining “witnesses left the state” to avoid the Court ordered interviews; and

– after the time to identify witnesses had passed, the government sought to add four new witnesses to its witness list, all of whom declined to be interviewed by defense counsel.”

Click here to read the entire letter from Gulati to Blumenthal.

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