49ers

Judge drops domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster due to insufficient evidence

Judge drops domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster due to insufficient evidence

SAN JOSE -- Reuben Foster no longer faces any charges of domestic violence, clearing the way for him to join the 49ers’ offseason program Thursday.

Judge Nona L. Klippen ruled Wednesday that the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office did not show sufficient evidence during last week’s preliminary hearing to advance the case against Foster.

The judge also reduced the charge of possession of an assault weapon to a misdemeanor. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for June 6.

The ruling at the Hall of Justice officially drops the charges against Foster of felony domestic violence with an allegation he inflicted great bodily injury and forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime.

Foster, 24, a linebacker who was a first-round draft pick in 2017, has not taken part in the 49ers’ offseason program, which began April 16. Despite some pressure from local media and the public, the 49ers did not remove Foster from the team.

Shortly after the ruling came down, 49ers general manager John Lynch released a statement:

“The organization is aware the domestic violence charges against Reuben Foster were dismissed earlier today. As a result, he will have the opportunity to rejoin the team tomorrow. It has been made clear to Reuben that his place on this team is one that must continue to be earned. We will continue to monitor the remaining misdemeanor charge," Lynch said.

Lynch said last month that the 49ers organization wanted to gather more facts. Coach Kyle Shanahan, echoing Lynch’s statement from days earlier, spelled out the 49ers’ policy on domestic violence.

“We can promise you guys if there’s someone who ever hits their significant other, their girlfriend, something like that, that person’s not going to be on our team,” Shanahan said.

Teammates Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert attended court on Wednesday in support of Foster. As he left the courthouse, Foster was asked how he was doing, he nodded affirmatively. Shortly before entering a black SUV to leave, he raised his right hand to give a "thumbs-up" sign.

Foster remains subject to discipline under the NFL's policy on personal conduct, which states a criminal conviction is not necessary for the league to take action.

"We continue to monitor all developments in the matter which remains under review," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

Neither prosecutor Kevin Smith nor Foster’s attorney, Josh Bentley, stopped for comment on the way out of the courthouse. The DA's office released a statement approximately an hour after Judge Klippen announced her ruling:

“We are disappointed in the judge’s decision. We are disappointed because the evidence demonstrated that Mr. Foster seriously hurt his girlfriend. Some have wondered why we still think Mr. Foster hurt his girlfriend when she said that he didn’t. Recantation is common among domestic violence victims. Some are scared, some feel guilty, some are coerced, some need money. Whatever the cause, we move forward on cases when victims falsely recant because we know that if we don’t more victims will be hurt. Our commitment to domestic violence survivors is unwavering.”

Foster’s ex-girlfriend initially accused him on Feb. 11 of dragging her by the hair, punching her 10 times with a closed fist, spitting on her, and destroying her cell phone to prevent her from reporting the crime to police.

The woman, Elissa Ennis, recanted her testimony under oath last week at the preliminary hearing. Ennis testified last week that she attacked Foster with a clothes hanger. But when prosecutor Kevin Smith asked Ennis if Foster put his hands on her, she answered, “No, sir. Not once.”

The judge, in issuing her decision, said the injuries were not consistent with 10 punches in the face from a professional football player. The judge said the injuries were more likely the result of a fight that Ennis said had with another woman the night before the alleged incident with Foster.

Two days after the alleged incident at Foster’s home in Los Gatos, Ennis recanted her statements to police. Under oath on the witness stand last week, she admitted that she became enraged when Foster threatened to break up with her.

“I was going to f--- up his career,” she said on the stand. When asked why she stepped forward to tell the truth about her initial allegations, Ennis said, “I had to do the right thing.”

Ennis added, “It was all a money scheme. I didn’t want to get this far in the news.”

Ennis, who testified against the advice of her attorney, Stephanie Rickard, said she also stole more than $8,000 from Foster, as well as two men’s Rolex watches, which remain in a safe deposit box in Louisiana.

The judge said Ennis established a motive for the false report. Testimony also established that Ennis was unusually calm and composed while reporting the alleged incident. The judge also noted Ennis' history, in which she admitted to falsely accusing another man of domestic violence in 2011 when he threatened to break up with her.

There was also no evidence that Foster and Ennis were in an abusive relationship, the judge concluded. Foster did not exercise control over Ennis' finances or comings and goings, and there was no evidence he offered to compensate her for her testimony, the judge said.

The DA’s office filed the formal criminal charges on April 12. Ennis had already recanted her original statement to investigators and the DA’s office was made aware of a video that purportedly shows Ennis in a fight with another woman in San Francisco after a road rage incident in which her injuries could have been sustained one night before the alleged incident with Foster.

In the statement that announced the formal charges last month, Smith said, “Our office handles between 4,000 and 5,000 domestic violence cases each year. We only hope that this case illuminates the tragic regularity of the rest.”

49ers GM John Lynch believes free agency work set team up for NFL draft

49ers GM John Lynch believes free agency work set team up for NFL draft

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Through the first wave of NFL free agency, 49ers general manager John Lynch said he believes the club has set up itself for the next month's draft.

“In terms of what we did, it gave us flexibility,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday at Ohio State’s Pro Day. “We had some ideas of areas where we had to get better. And what we did gave us flexibility to just focus on going out and getting the best player available, particularly with that top spot, regardless of the position.”

The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters spent the past two days getting to better know two of the top candidates for the 49ers’ first-round selection.

Lynch and Peters were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Tuesday and met with Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. On Wednesday, Lynch and Peters were heading off to have a late lunch with former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

“He’s a great kid and a tremendous player,” Lynch said of the meeting with Williams. “I enjoyed it.”

Lynch first met Bosa in Pasadena when he attended an Ohio State practice before Rose Bowl. Bosa withdrew from school in November to focus on his rehabilitation from core muscle surgery. Bosa was working out in Southern California and came by to support his former teammates when he met Lynch. The 49ers also met with Bosa last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“He’s a good kid,” Lynch said of Bosa. “We’re looking forward to spending more time with him.”

Lynch said the 49ers have not compiled their list of 30 official pre-draft visits, but Williams and Bosa appear to be strong candidates to make a visit to Santa Clara before the draft, too.

Neither Williams nor Bosa worked out at their pro days, opting to stand on their results from the combine. Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen, whose pro day is Friday, will also not work out. Lynch and Peters will not attend Kentucky’s pro day.

“Most of the top guys aren’t working out, especially if they did well at the combine,” Lynch said. “But you have an opportunity to come sit with them and talk with them.

“I think it’s good to be out for a number of reasons. The schools we visited the last couple of days, Alabama and Ohio State, I don’t think they’re going anywhere. They’re going to be producing players, so it’s good to continue to foster those relationships that we can help them and they can help us. And it’s really invaluable to just spend time with these guys.”

Lynch said the 49ers are still in the preliminary process of putting together their draft strategy with the No. 2 overall pick. Bosa, Williams and Allen are the prohibitive favorites.

“We’ve done a lot of work on those guys,” Lynch said. “We’ve done a lot of work on the entire draft class, but it really gets hyper-focused now. We’ve condensed a lot of the information. Now the coaches come up and we put it all together.”

Part of the puzzle for the team's plan for the draft was the first week of the NFL free-agent signing period. The 49ers signed starting linebacker Kwon Alexander and acquired starting defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 49ers also added potential starters at cornerback with Jason Verrett and safety with the re-signing of Jimmie Ward. The signing of wide receiver Jordan Matthews gives the 49ers a needed veteran presence to compete for significant playing time.

[RELATED: Why Quinnen Williams remains so humble before NFL draft]

Lynch acknowledged the 49ers are rolling the dice on Verrett, a first-round draft pick in 2014 who has appeared in just 25 games in five seasons due to a variety of injuries.

“We recruited him hard because there were a number of people that were interested, and we’re glad we landed him,” Lynch said of Verrett. “You’re always thinking risk-reward. The potential reward with that one is pretty special. He’s made of the right stuff. We just got to see if we can help him and he can find a way to stay healthy.”

Source: 49ers, Nick Bosa scheduled to meet at Ohio State's Pro Day

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USATSI

Source: 49ers, Nick Bosa scheduled to meet at Ohio State's Pro Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The 49ers traveling party that includes general manager John Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters has moved on to Ohio State.

Lynch and Peters attended Alabama’s pro day Tuesday and met with potential No. 2 overall pick Quinnen Williams, a defensive tackle.

On Wednesday, the 49ers are scheduled to meet with another possibility for the second overall selection, former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, according to a source.

The 49ers and Bosa are scheduled to have dinner, Albert Breer of the MMQB reported. But a source has told NBC Sports Bay that the 49ers hope to move the date up to a late lunch.

Bosa is not scheduled to work out Wednesday. The plan all along was for him to test well enough at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that any re-dos were not necessary. Bosa's marks ranked favorably against his brother Joey, the No. 3 overall pick three years ago.

Nick Bosa is completely healthy after his final season at Ohio State was cut short because of a core muscle injury.

[RELATED: 49ers hire Little as head athletic trainer]

Among the other top draft prospects at Ohio State are quarterback Dwayne Haskins, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, wide receivers Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin, and offensive linemen Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince.