According to a report from ABC News, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster’s ex-girlfriend and accuser in three separate domestic violence incidents admitted to lying in order to protect Foster’s NFL career when she recanted her initial testimony about a February incident.
Elissa Ennis, 28, told ABC News that Foster did, in fact, hit her multiple times during a February incident at Foster’s residence in Los Gatos, and that she lied to protect him. Ennis and Foster were involved in another alleged altercation at the 49ers’ team hotel in Tampa Bay on Nov. 24, an altercation that ended with Foster’s release by the team.
The fight began, Ennis told ABC News, after she told Foster, who was seeing other people at that point, that she was going to tell his new girlfriend that he paid for her flight to Florida. Foster allegedly slapped her phone out of her hand, pushed her in the chest and slapped her in the face with an open hand.
Foster, 24, was arrested and spent a night at the Hillsborough County Jail, before being released on $2,000 bond.
“He called me out there to work on our relationship,” Ennis said. “And, so, I was like, ‘I can’t believe you’re back doing this.’ We were both seeing therapists and stuff, trying to work on our relationship. And so I was like, ‘I can’t believe you’re back doing this.’ “
Ennis, 28, met Foster, 24, back in 2014 at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, when Foster was still a linebacker for Alabama. They began initially what was a long-distance relationship, before moving in together in what became an on-and-off relationship lasting four years. Over the course of that relationship, Ennis said he laid hands on her on three separate occasions.
In February, Ennis alleged that Foster struck her 10 times with a closed fist, spit on her and dragged her by her hair. She also alleged that Foster destroyed her cell phone to prevent her from calling the police, which she eventually did.
Ennis said Foster began throwing her clothes off the balcony, then allegedly dragged her down the stairs, punched her in the face and kicked her.
During a preliminary hearing in May, Ennis testified that she attacked Foster with a clothes hanger, and that Foster did not lay his hands on her. She also said she made up the testimony as part of a “money scheme,” so that she could sue Foster later, and to ruin his life and get him cut from the 49ers.
The judge in the case, Nona L. Klippen, said the injuries observed on Ennis were not consistent with 10 punches in the face from an NFL football player, and were more likely the result of a fight that Ennis said she had with another woman the night before the alleged incident with Foster. The case was dismissed.
Foster did, however, plead no contest to a weapons charge, which had been reduced to a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 232 hours of community service and placed on two years’ probation. He was suspended two games by the NFL for that charge, as well as for a marijuana charge in Alabama.
Asked by ABC News why she recanted initially, Ennis said she did it “Because I loved him, and love will have you doin’ things that’s not in your best interests.”
“He used to come crying to me and tell me he didn’t have anybody,” Ennis said in a televised interview. “If somebody you love come crying to you, telling you that they didn’t have anybody, you’d do the same thing, too. That’s why I did what I did, because I loved him.”
Ennis told ABC News that she’s now realized, after receiving professional help, that her relationship with Foster was not love.
“Like, everything I thought was love is really not love,” she said. “It’s not.”
The 49ers elected not to cut Foster for the February incident, in part, Ennis said, because they knew she would recant her testimony. After his two-game suspension, Foster returned to playing, all the while having a member of the 49ers staff visit him at his residence every day, and conduct daily telephone check-ins. Still, in October, Foster’s neighbors called police for an alleged shouting match between Ennis and Foster, an incident the 49ers did not know about.
When Ennis arrived at the Grand Hyatt, the two once again got into an argument that allegedly turned physical on the sixth floor. San Francisco was staying on the second and third floors, both secured by team personnel.
Ennis alleged that she felt that police did not believe her, and that she saw 49ers officials telling police that she was the same ex-girlfriend who had previous lied about domestic violence allegations.
The 49ers responded in a statement on Thursday morning: “The 49ers fully cooperated with authorities, assisted in locating Mr. Foster and in no way impeded their investigation.”
Less than 48 hours after the incident, the Washington Redskins claimed Foster off waivers. He is on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, meaning he cannot practice or play until his legal issues are resolved, but he is still receiving his weekly paycheck of $51,470.