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Prosecutor says Rice wouldn’t have gone to jail, even if convicted

Ray Rice

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)


The man who agreed to allow Ray Rice to enter a pre-trial diversionary program has broken his silence. In so doing, prosecutor Jim McClain has created yet another area of potentially tough questions for the Ravens and the NFL.

Via Linda Cohen of the Press of Atlantic City, McClain explained on Wednesday that, even if Rice had been tried and convicted for second-degree aggravated assault, Rice wouldn’t have gone to jail.

“People need to understand, the choice was not PTI [pre-trial intervention] versus five years state prison,” McClain said. “The choice was not PTI versus the No Early Release Act on a 10-year sentence. The parameters as they existed were: Is this a PTI case or a probation case?

Without serious bodily injury, McClain couldn’t charge Rice with anything more than third-degree aggravated assault. McClain said that, in New Jersey, third-degree aggravated assault charges carry a presumption of no incarceration, even with a conviction at trial.

“Even if they disagree with why I did what I did, I just want people to know the decision was made after careful consideration of the law, careful consideration of the facts, hearing the voice of the victim and considering all the parameters,” McClain said. “I want people to have confidence in this agency, even if they don’t agree with everything we do.”

McClain’s explanation could result in even less confidence in the Ravens and the NFL, since the supposed failure to get the tape of the punch arose in part from the belief that Rice wouldn’t have been allowed to enter a pre-trial intervention program if the evidence showed a graphic, ugly assault. If McClain’s summary of the relevant provisions of New Jersey law is accurate, the NFL should have known that the decision to let Rice enter a pre-trial diversionary program shouldn’t have been interpreted as proof that he didn’t do something revolting.

“I’m very glad that people are repulsed by the video, because this type of violence is an ugly, ugly thing,” McClain said. “But the fact that this assault was on video makes it no more nor any less ugly than those hundreds of domestic violence situations where similar violence was inflicted on a victim and it’s not captured on videotape. Reality is reality whether it’s captured on videotape or not. And the reality of violence is that it is always ugly.”

Which leads back to the question that has become obscured by the report that the league had the video. Based on what the league knew without the tape, did the league really need to see the video?