ESPN report casts new questions on Hope Solo domestic violence case
The defense for United States women’s national team goalkeeper Hole Solo in her domestic violence assault case was drawn into question by a ESPN Outside the Lines report published on Sunday.
The report marks the first time official records from the incident have been revealed, and is also the first time Solo's family has spoken about what occurred.
Last June, Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault for allegedly striking her half-sister, Teresa Obert, and then-17-year-old nephew. In January, a judge dismissed the charges and said the case was “impermissibly prejudiced” by a lack of cooperation from witnesses.
Solo remained an active member of the women’s national team while facing the charges. The USWNT will begin Women’s World Cup play at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday against Australia in Winnipeg, Canada.
Solo has denied the allegations throughout the legal process, contending she used “lawful force” in defending herself from her nephew, whom the ESPN report describes as “big, 6-foot-9, 280 pounds.” Solo is 5'9", 150 pounds. The nephew’s name has not published because he was a minor at the time of the incident.
ESPN’s report investigated police reports, sworn depositions given by Obert and her son, and 911 transcripts from the night in question, June 20, 2014.
On June 20, the Oberts went out to dinner and then to a park with other family members before arriving home around 10 p.m. There, they found Solo parked outside their house, alone in her car. Obert wasn't surprised to see her sister. She said Solo had called Obert while the family was at the park, telling them she was upset because she had been fighting with her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens. Solo's relationship with Obert and her son had become unsettled in the past couple years, and the teenager was not happy to see his aunt. But Obert asked him to try be helpful, and together they got into Solo's car.
"She was swigging out of a bottle of wine that was in her cup holder," Obert said during her deposition. "She was drunk."
ESPN’s report notes that Obert said Solo continued to drink and that she had a couple glasses of wine with her.
The night “escalated to violence shortly before 1 a.m.” when Solo and her nephew “exchanged a series of insults.” The nephew told police and in his deposition that Solo struck him lightly in the face before charging at him again and striking him multiple times. After that, Obert's son called 911.
Obert's son said to the police and in his deposition that he then grabbed a wooden broomstick -- he alternately described it as a paint-roller pole -- and hit Solo over the head with it, breaking it.
"She just turned around and looked at him and started to walk toward him," Obert said of Solo's reaction. "That's all, no flinch, no nothing. Her eyes just got big and she turned, nothing."
When police arrived, they noted in their report that Obert was “highly agitated and emotional” and her and her son “showed signs of fatigue or exhaustion.” The responding officer recognized Solo and described her as “calm, but visibly upset. Her eyes were red and bloodshot.”
Obert's son, according to Officer Elizabeth Voss, had redness around his nose and left jawbone and a "bleeding cut on the bottom of his left ear, just above the earlobe." His T-shirt was ripped and his arms were "bright red and had scratch marks."
Obert "had bruising on the left side of her face," and "a large scratch mark on the right side of her neck," according to Officer Chuck Pierce. He wrote that Obert's clothing was in "disarray" and it "appeared she could not stand."
Later, while police were attempting to book her into jail, Solo was combative and had to be forced to the ground. She then yelled at one officer, “You’re such a b----. You’re scared of me because you know that if the handcuffs were off, I’d kick your ***.”
As to U.S. Soccer’s response to the incident, Obert told ESPN neither she nor her son was contacted by U.S. Soccer. ESPN “found no evidence that anyone with U.S. Soccer contacted prosecutors or police involved with the case, either.”
Federation president Sunil Gulati issued a statement on Sept. 22 that read, “From the beginning, we considered the information available and have taken a deliberate and thoughtful approach regarding Hope Solo’s status with the national team. Based on that information, U.S. Soccer stands by our decision to allow her to participate with the team as the legal process unfolds. If new information becomes available, we will carefully consider it.”