Ex-girlfriend of 49ers LB Reuben Foster recants domestic violence claims


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster’s former girlfriend released a statement Wednesday in which she says she initially lied to police about him injuring her in a February incident at his home in nearby Los Gatos, Calif.

The statement from San Jose attorney Stephanie Rickard, who identified her client in the statement as Elissa Ennis, said the 28-year-old woman suffered her injuries as the result of a fight with another woman and that there is video documentation of that fight.

“[Foster] did not strike her, injure her or threaten her,” Rickard said.

According to the release, Foster attempted to end his relationship with his now former girlfriend after learning of the fight between her and another woman.

“She was extremely upset and told him if he broke up with her she would ‘trash his career,'” Rickard said.

Rickard said when Ennis realized what she had done, she attempted to go back to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in an effort to recant her original statements blaming Foster for her injuries.

The district attorney’s office filed charges against Foster on April 12 for domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime and possessing an assault weapon, all of which are classified as felonies.

In the district attorney’s office’s initial accounting of the events of Feb. 11, Ennis flagged down a passing car outside the Los Gatos home after he had dragged her by her hair, punched her in the head eight to 10 times and physically removed her from the house.

Ennis’ injuries included a ruptured ear drum, which required a visit to the hospital. After her attempts to recant her initial statements, the district attorney’s office had suspected it was possible she would not cooperate with their case but told reporters at Foster’s arraignment that the case against Foster would be pursued even without her help.

In the days after the charges against Foster were filed, the 49ers and Foster came to an agreement that he would refrain from participating in team activities until his legal process has played out.

Earlier this week, Niners general manager John Lynch reiterated that stance and again indicated a desire to let Foster’s case come to a conclusion before making any decisions about his future with the team.

“I’m not at liberty to go in depth on this because it’s an ongoing legal process, and we’re going to respect that,” Lynch told reporters. “I do have a couple of thoughts. Speaking for (CEO) Jed (York) and (coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and speaking for the York family, as you all know and as our release indicated, we take the gravity of these charges extremely seriously. We do feel like patience is the right approach right now. We’re going to learn things through this legal process.

“But I want to be abundantly clear, if these charges are proven true, if Reuben did hit this young lady, he won’t be a part of this organization going forward.”

Although he hasn’t been participating in the team’s offseason program, Foster has remained in contact with the 49ers and been working out on his own. He’s scheduled for another court appearance on Monday and also still has a May 2 hearing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama related to an arrest for second-degree marijuana possession after a Jan. 12 arrest.

The NFL has been monitoring both cases and either could lead to discipline from the league up to and including suspension. Both cases will be reviewed under the league’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.

The statement from Rickard ends with an acknowledgement from the woman of the attention Foster’s case has drawn and how it is being perceived in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

“This case isn’t one of those,” the statement reads. “[She] apologizes to everyone that may have been harmed in this case, especially Mr. Foster.”

In two previous domestic violence-related cases involving 49ers players, the charges either were reduced or dropped altogether after the woman recanted or refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

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