DALLAS — A Dallas County grand jury on Tuesday indicted former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel after allegations that he assaulted his former girlfriend. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M was charged with misdemeanor assault. He is accused of kidnapping, hitting and threatening to kill Colleen Crowley earlier this year.
“The grand jury’s review of Mr. Manziel’s case has resulted in a ‘true bill,’ which means that there was probable cause found that Mr. Manziel committed a Family Violence Assault against the complainant,” District Attorney Susan Hawk’s office said in a written statement. “Therefore, this case will move forward in the criminal justice system and be prosecuted by the district attorney’s office.”
The indictment accuses Manziel, 23, of “intentionally and knowingly causing bodily harm” to Crowley “by striking complainant with a hand and by forcing complainant into a vehicle and against a vehicle dashboard.”
Manziel’s lead attorney, Jim Darnell, also released a statement Tuesday. “We certainly respect the decision of the grand jury but of course they only hear part of the case: What the DA chooses to share with them. We don’t know what that was. This case will now be assigned to a court in Dallas County where the parties are able to join the issue. Johnny will certainly plead ‘not guilty’ and we believe the evidence will support that plea. Out of respect for Ms. Crowley, we will not try the case in the press. We do, however, believe that Johnny will be acquitted at the conclusion of the case.”
Manziel’s attorneys have been talking with prosecutors about the case and met again Tuesday. Another Manziel attorney, Bob Hinton, has said Manziel will plead not guilty. Hinton said Monday that Manziel remains in Los Angeles and will turn himself in to authorities. If Manziel doesn’t turn himself in, a warrant will be issued for his arrest.
“We are not asking for any special treatment,” Hinton said. “Johnny is coming around. He is awfully young, and he is thrust into the maturation process. It is unfortunate that these circumstances have presented themselves.”
The grand jury voted Thursday to indict Manziel. Dallas police referred a Class A misdemeanor domestic violence assault case to the grand jury instead of arresting Manziel. Typically, Dallas County’s grand juries hear only felony cases. The maximum punishment for a Class A misdemeanor assault is a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Manziel is accused of abusing Crowley in a fight over another woman Jan. 29 at Hotel ZaZa in Dallas. Crowley and Manziel broke up in December after dating for two years and living together in Cleveland. She said she saw him that night in January when he invited her to his hotel room to talk.
Crowley, also 23, told police that Manziel slapped her on the head and ruptured her left eardrum, causing her to lose her hearing. She said he hit her, dragged her by the hair, forced her into a car and drove her to Fort Worth, where she lives.
Dallas police opened an investigation Feb. 5, a day after Crowley alleged in a Fort Worth police report that Manziel had hit her at the hotel. Investigators interviewed witnesses there and reviewed hotel video.
Dallas and Fort Worth police eventually combined the cases into one. Dallas had jurisdiction because Crowley alleged that the assault began there. The NFL’s own investigation into the incident is ongoing, a league spokesman said Monday.
If Manziel signs with a new team, he would be subject to all aspects of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. If the league rules that Manziel violated the policy, he would be suspended without pay for at least six games for a first offense and would face a lifetime ban from the NFL for a second offense.
Manziel doesn’t have to be found guilty in court to face punishment by the league.
It’s been a bad month for Manziel. He was dropped by his agent and lost all his endorsement deals.
Manziel released a statement last week, saying he still hopes to play pro football this year and that he needed to resolve his problems. Manziel’s NFL future is uncertain. He was cut by the Browns in March after two tumultuous seasons marked by inconsistent play and off-the-field headlines about partying and drinking. He had a stint in rehab.
“I’m hoping to take care of the issues in front of me right now so I can focus on what I have to do if I want to play in 2016,” Manziel said in a statement to USA Today. “I also continue to be thankful to those who really know me and support me.”
He’s been dumped by two agents. The first, Erik Burkhardt, cut ties with Manziel after last season. Burkhardt’s successor, Drew Rosenhaus, dropped Manziel last week after giving him five days to seek help.
Manziel’s attorney Hinton declined to say Monday whether Manziel was seeking help in rehab.