Former 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested on misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment charges on Monday morning, Santa Clara police said. McDonald's new team, the Chicago Bears, announced his release at 1:30 p.m, less than seven hours after his arrest.
“We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear,” Chicago general manager Ryan Pace said in a statement. “He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him.”
According to Santa Clara police, McDonald was arrested at 7 a.m. and booked into the county jail. Police were dispatched to McDonald's Santa Clara residence at 3:48 a.m., and officers were told that McDonald had “physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby.”
Upon arriving, officers found that McDonald had left the residence, and he was later located at a San Jose home, which property records indicate belongs to former 49er Justin Smith. The defensive lineman, who retired from the 49ers last week, has not been implicated in any way in the alleged incident.
McDonald's latest arrest marks the third time that he has been embroiled in a legal issue in less than a year. The first two incidents occurred while McDonald was still a member of the 49ers.
The first incident was Aug. 31, when McDonald was arrested at his then-San Jose home on suspicion of felony domestic violence abuse following a argument with his then-fiancee, who was 10 weeks pregnant. No charges were filed in that case, as the alleged victim refused to cooperate with a follow-up investigation and prosecutors determined that there was “insufficient evidence” to move forward.
McDonald was never disciplined by the 49ers, and he played for the team throughout the course of the investigation. At the time, general manager Trent Baalke pointed to the principle of “due process” to explain why the team didn't suspend McDonald.
“There's such a thing called due process, and we intend on letting that play out,” Baalke said at an impromptu press conference held at Levi's Stadium two days after McDonald's arrest.
The team didn't wait for due process to play out later in the season. On Dec. 17, the 49ers terminated McDonald hours after San Jose police announced that he had been named as suspect in a sexual assault allegation that is still being investigated.
“While the organization has a strong belief in due process, and has demonstrated that over time, Ray's demonstrated a pattern of poor decision-making that has led to multiple distractions for this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated,” Baalke said.
Following McDonald's arrest Monday, a 49ers spokesman did not return a phone message seeking comment on his latest legal problems.
In March, McDonald filed a defamation lawsuit against the woman who accused him of rape in December, claiming that security camera footage will show that the sexual encounter was consensual.
According to police, the woman has no memory of a sexual encounter and reports blacking out after drinking alcohol and falling at McDonald's home. The woman went to police after waking up naked next to McDonald.
In response to McDonald suing her for defamation, the woman filed a cross-complaint, which named both McDonald and current 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks. In the complaint, the woman claimed that Brooks “groped her in a sexual way.”
The Santa Clara County district attorney is still deciding whether to file criminal charges.
Despite his ongoing legal issues, the Bears decided to sign McDonald on March 24. After initially rejecting the idea, team chairman George McCaskey changed his mind after having a face-to-face meeting with McDonald and conducting a phone call with the veteran's parents.
“I was impressed with how sincere he was and how motivated he is. He understands, I think, that he could have well been facing the end of his football career,” McCaskey said at the time. “And he loves football, and he wants that career to continue. So I was impressed with his motivation.”
Ultimately, McDonald's career with the Bears lasted just 62 days. Now, for the third time in less than a year, McDonald finds himself at the center of the NFL's biggest off-field plague.
In December, the league introduced a new personal conduct policy, which includes enhanced punishments for domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse incidents. The revamped policy calls for a minimum suspension of six games, but the punishment can be increased for extenuating circumstances or repeat offenders.