What's next for Moss?
Late January hearing proves pivotal for Pats wideout
Posted: Wednesday January 16, 2008 10:38PM; Updated: Wednesday January 16, 2008 10:38PM
A temporary restraining order was issued Monday requiring Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss to stay at least 500 feet from a woman who alleged he committed "battery causing serious injury" to her at her Florida home on Jan. 6. SI.com's Michael McCann answers the key legal questions.
1) What legal action has been taken against Randy Moss?
Rachelle Washington, who alleges that she was physically battered by Randy Moss in her home on Sunday, Jan. 6, secured a temporary restraining order for protection against dating violence against Moss in Broward County Circuit Court. In Florida, such orders are good for 15 days or until a full hearing can be held, whichever comes first. They are only issued under certain conditions, including when a person suffers an injury inflicted by a romantic partner and also has reasonable cause to believe that she is in imminent danger of being victimized again. The romantic partner -- the batterer -- must be someone with whom the victim has dated within the previous six months, with "dating" referring to a relationship where the parties expect affection or sexual involvement and where their interaction is relatively continuous.
Keep in mind, this order was issued "ex parte," meaning the judge only considered Washington's interpretation of the facts. Moss, therefore, has not been able to tell a judge his side of the story. Courts allow these arguably "one-sided" orders for good reason, however: to provide the alleged victim with immediate protection from an imminent threat.
In terms of its effect, the order restrains Moss from committing any acts of violence against Washington and prohibits him from knowingly or intentionally going within 500 feet of her and within 100 feet of her car.
2) What happens next?
On Jan. 28, six days before Super Bowl XLII, a hearing has been scheduled to determine whether the temporary restraining order against Moss should be dismissed, extended, or converted into a different, more lengthy restraining order. If the judge decides Moss poses a serious threat to Washington, the judge could issue a "Final Judgment of Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence," which would impose a restraining order on Moss that would remain in effect for a specific time period or until modified or dissolved by the court.
For his part, Moss has vehemently denied Washington's allegations, telling reporters, "In my whole entire life of living 30 years, I've never put my hand on one woman, physically or in an angry manner."
In addition to denying the specific allegation of violence, Moss might also challenge Washington's characterization of their relationship. Namely, he may argue that he was not dating Washington, at least as "dating" is defined by law. Under Florida law, "dating violence" does not include violence in a "causal relationship" or violence between individuals who have "only engaged in ordinary fraternization in a . . . social context."
Also, the fact Moss is married might theoretically work in his favor, since in a perfect world it would indicate he is not dating anyone. As we know, however, the world is not perfect. Unless Moss can evidence its strength and fidelity, his martial status will probably not receive much weight by the court.
3) What would happen if Moss violated the restraining order before Jan. 28?
Moss would be in contempt of a court order, and could be immediately taken into custody by police and incarcerated. Depending on how he violated the order, he could also be charged with a number of crimes.
Although it is unclear how often Moss travels to the Fort Lauderdale area, the likelihood of him violating the order seems remote. For one, his primary residence is now in the Greater Boston area. In addition, if the Patriots defeat the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship, they would travel to Glendale, Ariz., for Super Bowl XLII.