As expected, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has reinstated senior linebacker Storm Klein, just one day after Klein reached a plea agreement in the domestic violence case against him.
“The charges that would have violated our core values have been totally dismissed,” Meyer said, referring to the domestic violence charges that were dropped.
Klein was accused of “violently and purposefully” grabbing his girlfriend by the arms and slamming her into the front door of his apartment.
He entered a guilty plea on a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge; the charges of domestic violence were dropped at the request of Klein’s girlfriend, the mother of his young child, who said he didn’t intend to hurt her.
Meyer had indicated he would re-evaluate Klein’s status with the team if there was a change in his legal status. Klein and his lawyer entered the plea agreement in the hope that Meyer would reinstate Klein in time for the player to be back on scholarship for the beginning of the fall academic semester, which begins this week.
“I have spoken extensively to members of both families and that has prompted me to re-assess his situation and allow him back,” Meyer said.
Klein might be back on the team, but he’s certainly not off the hook. He has already agreed to 18 months probation as well as a “behavioral contract” with the university, and he’ll sit out, at minimum, two games. The suspension won’t have much of an effect on the team overall. Klein was a ten-game starter in 2011 but had fallen down the depth chart after sustaining minor injuries prior to his July dismissal from the team.
Meyer was criticized for lax discipline at Florida due to the number of players arrested during his tenure, but he handled this situation fairly. He dismissed Klein from the team immediately after the arrest but noted he’d re-evaluate if there was a change in the charges. The domestic violence charge was dropped, so Klein was reinstated.
One might wonder, though, if Meyer’s initial statement about possibly re-evaluating Klein’s status played any role in the change in charges. If the coach had simply kicked Klein off the team and not raised that possibility, would the domestic violence charges still have been dropped?
More importantly, should they?
Domestic violence is a serious, serious issue, but it’s also complex due to the emotional, personal relationships involved. It’s not uncommon for victims to feel like the abuse is their fault, or to make excuses for their abusers.
I don’t presume to have any insight into Klein’s relationship with his girlfriend, but it’s worth noting that while she requested that Klein not be charged, she didn’t deny the initial accusations against him.
Court documents stated that she said he “didn’t hit her, didn’t intend to hurt her.” Slamming someone into a door isn’t “hitting,” but it’s still abusive, and to a victim, pain doesn’t differentiate between unintentional and intentional hurt. It’s dangerous to suggest that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding or, worse, that Klein’s girlfriend merely overreacted. The fact that charges were dropped doesn’t mean the incident didn’t happen, just that Klein isn’t facing legal action for it.
Now that he’s reached an agreement that will get him back in school and back on the football field, let’s Klein makes the most of his second chance by finishing his degree, getting a job that will allow him to provide for his daughter, and becoming a positive role model for her.