Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott can't move fast enough to escape the shadow of domestic violence accusations.
The Columbus, Ohio, city attorney's office declined to press charges against Elliott, due to conflicting statements from witnesses and Elliott's ex-girlfriend and accuser, Tiffany Thompson. But yesterday Tobert S. Tobias, the assistant city attorney, fueled speculation about the case when he told media that he believed Elliott and Thompson had several violent interactions in the week before Thompson accused Elliott of five separate assaults over a one-week period in late July.
“For the Ezekiel Elliott matter, I personally believe that there were a series of interactions between Mr. Elliott and (his accuser) where violence occurred," Tobias told the Observer in an email. "However, given the totality of the circumstances, I could not firmly conclude exactly what happened. Saying something happened versus having sufficient evidence to criminally charge someone are two completely different things. Charging decisions are taken very seriously and we use best efforts to conduct thorough and detailed investigations.”
The news comes on the heels of other bad news for Elliott. Last week, the NFL said its investigation into the domestic violence accusations against him remains open. The league, wary of clearing Elliott too soon and ending up with egg on its face as it did during its recent investigation of former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown, is keeping its options open with regard to suspending Elliott.
Elliott's lawyer, Frank Salzano, took issue with both Tobias and media coverage of the NFL investigation late Monday. "My office provided a mountain of exculpatory evidence demonstrating Mr. Elliott's innocence and directly contradicting all of the false allegations contained in the Accuser’s two police reports as first reported on July 22, 2016," Salzano said in a statement. "Yet the media has chosen to deflect the recent negative press regarding the NFL's reported mishandling of several domestic violence matters by focusing on the NFL's prolonged investigation of Mr. Elliott. The NFL’s interview of Mr. Elliott was conducted over four weeks ago and went unreported at the time as it was then, and still remains a non-story."
Tobias confirmed to the Observer that Salzano and Elliott did provide a "significant amount" of information to the Columbus City Attorney's office. He otherwise declined to elaborate on his statements and declined to comment on Salzano's claims.
Elliott, who leads the NFL in rushing and is considered a prime candidate to win the league's rookie of the year award, remains subject to the NFL's conduct policy, which allows the league to suspend players regardless of whether or not criminal charges are filed against the player.