AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage sounded off Tuesday about the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice, charged with assaulting his then-fiancee, by the National Football League on Monday.

“It is a sad commentary that the NFL only took action to suspend Rice until after it had seen this shocking video,” LePage said. “The (Baltimore) Ravens and the NFL knew Rice knocked his then-fiancee unconscious and dragged her body out of an elevator.

“That kind of domestic violence is more than enough evidence for the NFL to have suspended Rice and for the Ravens to let him go,” LePage said. “It’s too bad they waited so long to do the right thing.”

Rice was initially charged with third-degree aggravated assault but was allowed to cut a deal as a first-time offender to enter a pretrial program after which the charge would be dropped.

In August, LePage called out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying Rice’s two-game suspension from the Ravens was too lenient and sent a message that it’s OK “for professional athletes to beat women just for the sake of ratings.”

“Taking thugs and wife-beaters off the field may be bad for business, but you are playing games with people’s lives,” LePage said in August.


Rice was arrested in February after striking his fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City elevator. New video released this week shows Rice striking Palmer in the face, appearing to knock her out before dragging her from the elevator.

Rice has since been released from the Baltimore Ravens and placed on indefinite suspension by the NFL. He and Palmer are now married.

Always outspoken on the issue of domestic violence, LePage signed legislation in March banning domestic assault suspects from contacting victims from the time of arrest until bail is set. It also allowed law enforcement to share criminal history records with advocates to allow them to plan for victims’ safety.

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