Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Report: Miami Dolphin Got Special Treatment After Domestic Abuse Arrest

Back in 2010, police arrested then-Dolphins defensive end Phillip Merling and charged him with aggravated domestic battery on a pregnant woman after he allegedly hit then-fiancée Kristen Lennon in the head. Merling didn't miss any training camp time, and the charges were dropped. The New York Times talked to Lennon to get more details, and she says Merling kept harassing her, even up to this year.


According to the sheriff's report, in the early morning of May 27, 2010, Lennon saw a used condom fall out of Merling's jeans as he came home. She threw some of his possessions out of the house, and Merling pushed her onto the bed and started hitting her. Lennon eventually locked herself in a bathroom and called the police.

The Times also looked at the treatment Merling received after his arrest, due to the close relationship between the local police and the Dolphins' security:

Minutes after Mr. Merling was taken into custody, Stuart Weinstein, the Dolphins' longtime security director, was working his contacts in the Sheriff's Office, trying to confirm the arrest and get information on Mr. Merling's status. At one point, Mr. Weinstein asked a commander who worked side jobs for the Dolphins to notify him when Mr. Merling's bond was posted. The commander said he would, according to an internal affairs investigation.

Mr. Merling was booked on charges of aggravated domestic battery on a pregnant woman. Almost all inmates are required to leave the jail through the public front door and arrange their own transportation home, but Mr. Merling was granted an unusual privilege: He was escorted out a rear exit by a deputy, evading reporters. The commander, who was off duty and in uniform, drove Mr. Merling in an unmarked car to the Dolphins' training complex 20 minutes away.

After Mr. Merling met with team officials, the commander drove him home to get his belongings — even though a judge had ordered Mr. Merling to "stay away" and avoid any potential contact with Ms. Lennon.


As for Merling's charges being dropped, Lennon says she was eight months pregnant at the time, and could not travel from South Carolina to Florida to testify against Merling. But she says Merling continued to harass her multiple times since his 2010 arrest:

A year ago, a judge in South Carolina issued a final order demanding that he pay tens of thousands of dollars. When Mr. Merling arranged a meeting with Ms. Lennon to give her a check, she ended up calling the police, saying he punched her in the chest, according to a police report. The next day, she told a judge that he had also crushed her cellphone.

Three weeks ago, a warrant was issued for his arrest over nonpayment of child support.

Ms. Lennon said that she still received text messages from him and that she had changed her number many times. One message in July read, "I hate u."

Also in July, Ms. Lennon called the police, saying Mr. Merling had come to her home late at night and tried to break in the front door. The dents in the door are visible.

She has since added an extra lock.

Merling hasn't been on an NFL team since 2013; Lennon still lives in South Carolina.

[New York Times]

Photo: AP

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