Sports

Seahawks' Hill needs punishment, victim needs help | Reporter's Notebook

Sports news in the offseason is rarely a positive development.

With the draft still months away and the wounds that were opened in the Georgia Dome nearly three weekends ago just beginning to close, there is little chance anything Seahawks-related is going to carry an uplifting vibe.

Enter Leroy Hill.

The longtime linebacker with the franchise was arrested on Tuesday on two counts alleged domestic violence. The first charge was fourth-degree assault while the second was for unlawful imprisonment.

It is far too easy (though completely understandable) to simply condemn the reprehensible actions Hill is accused of by the 26-year-old Issaquah woman who is the alleged victim and his girlfriend.

Far too often, the public casts aside entertainers that run afoul with the law or demonstrate a dysfunctional moral compass.

A basketball player is arrested in a night club with a handgun? Give him an outright release and let him be someone else's problem. The rockstar who can't put down the bottle? Her music was never my style in the first place.

None of that is to say Hill's actions should be excused, in fact it is quite the opposite. He should be afforded due process and if convicted, punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Then he, and the victim, should get some help.

Domestic violence is not a just the exhibition of a character flaw, it is the symptom of a complex set of deeply rooted emotional and psychological conflicts. That becomes even more apparent when faced with the fact this is not the first time frustration has boiled over in Hill's romantic life. Issaquah was the scene of another arrest on a domestic violence charge in 2010.

It was resolved without a conviction when he entered a stipulated-order of continuance that helped him avoid a trial and stated that an 18-month court probation and completion of a year-long state-certified domestic violence treatment program would render the case dismissed.

Whatever demons Hill and the woman he allegedly assaulted and held against her will have, there are outlets in the community to provide the tools both need to curb such destructive tendencies.

No one is "someone else's problem."

It may seem that way as we watch tragedies such as the shootings in Colorado and Connecticut, but that mindset shifts when it happens at Cafe Racer, in Rainier Beach or at Bellevue's Munchbar.

Instead of declaring him an expendable asset for the Seahawks, or unfit member of our community's fabric, let's recognize this is a problem that won't simply be gone once Leroy Hill cleans out his locker. Rather than hoping he simply gets on a plane and leaves to wreak havoc on the women of another city, let's hope he finds a way to mend his shattered psyche and learn to have productive and fruitful relationships.

And most importantly, let's show him there is no better place to do those things than right here.

LifeWire, an Eastside-based organization founded in 1982 under the moniker Eastside Domestic Violence Program, has served more than 115,000 victims of domestic violence, right in our own backyard. It is but one of a number of organizations that assists victims of domestic violence and provides training and counseling. In 2011, LifeWire fielded nearly 11,000 crisis-line calls and educated more than 23,000 individuals in the community on domestic violence.

Let's hope in 2013, a former-Seahawks player and a misguided 20-something are two of them.

Josh Suman: 425-453-5045; jsuman@bellevuereporter.com

 

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