A woman identified as the fiancée of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill accused him of hitting their 3-year-old son in an audio recording released by a local television station on Thursday.
In the audio, the woman identified as Hill’s fiancée, Crystal Espinal, says their son repeatedly said, “Daddy did it.” “He is terrified of you,” she says.
Hill responds, “You need to be terrified of me, too,’’ adding an obscenity.
The station, KCTV, did not identify who had provided the 11-minute audio but said it had been recorded by Espinal at Dubai International Airport and then given to a friend.
The Chiefs announced late Thursday night that Hill would not participate in team activities for the “foreseeable future.” “We were deeply disturbed by what we heard and were deeply concerned,” said Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach.
Espinal could not be reached for comment, and a lawyer for Hill did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The recording was released a day after prosecutors had declined to bring charges in connection with an investigation of abuse at Hill’s home in Overland Park, Kan.
At a news conference on Wednesday, the Johnson County district attorney, Stephen Howe, said that he believed that a crime had occurred that resulted in an injury to the boy, but that there was not enough evidence to support a charge against Hill or Espinal.
According to The Kansas City Star, the police were investigating two episodes that occurred at Hill’s home last month, and during one of them, his son had sustained a broken arm. The Star also reported last week that the 3-year-old boy had been removed from Hill and Espinal’s custody.
On the recording, the woman tells Hill that she has helped him avoid punishment.
“I rode for you against that detective and the C.P.S. people,” she said, referring to child protective services. The Kansas Department for Children and Families previously said it was investigating the episode.
On the recording, when Hill says he did not do anything, the woman identified as Espinal replies that “a 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm.”
The woman also accuses Hill, 25, of punching their son in the chest, and says that if their son “gets in trouble, you get the belt out.” Hill responds by saying she also uses a belt with their child, which she denies.
This is not the first time Hill has been accused of domestic violence. He was arrested on domestic violence charges in 2014 while he was at Oklahoma State, and he pleaded guilty to assaulting and choking Espinal, who was eight weeks pregnant at the time. He received three years’ probation.
The publication of the audio came shortly before the beginning of the N.F.L. draft, one of the league’s premiere showcases, in which the best college players are selected by teams.
Spokesmen for the Chiefs and the N.F.L. did not immediately respond to requests for comment. On an ESPN broadcast from the draft before the audio was released, a host, Sam Ponder, asked N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell what the league should do about Hill.
Goodell responded that “you don’t rush to judgment and you don’t make a decision without having those facts.”
Still, the recording could force Goodell to consider whether to penalize Hill even if no charges have been filed.
For years, the league has followed the lead of the law enforcement authorities in deciding whether to penalize a player in cases involving domestic abuse and other serious crimes. But since 2014, when the Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was shown on video knocking out his fiancée in a hotel elevator, the league has strengthened its guidelines for investigating off-field episodes.
The commissioner has at times penalized players with fines and suspensions even in cases where the player was not arrested or convicted. Just this month Goodell fined Washington Redskins linebacker Reuben Foster the equivalent of two game checks after a domestic violence charge against him had been dropped.
Since being drafted in 2016 in the fifth round by the Chiefs, Hill has become one of the league’s most explosive playmakers. Last year, his third in the league, he had 87 receptions for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns.
If Hill is suspended by the league or released by the Chiefs, it would be the second time in a year the team has lost an offensive star because of violent conduct off the field.
In November, a video was published showing Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt kicking and punching a 19-year-old woman in a hotel lobby. The Chiefs released Hunt, who was suspended with pay by the league.
Hunt was not charged, but the N.F.L. ultimately suspended him without pay for the first eight games of next season. Hunt was later signed by the Cleveland Browns.
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