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Aroldis Chapman's Signing By Cubs 'Disappointing' To Victim Advocates

By  Ariel Cheung and Linze Rice | July 25, 2016 6:11pm 

 The Cubs acquired pitcher Aroldis Chapman Monday.
The Cubs acquired pitcher Aroldis Chapman Monday.
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WRIGLEY FIELD — The Chicago Cubs acquiring Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman — a player with a history of domestic violence — was deemed a controversial trade for some following the team's announcement Monday.

Chapman was never arrested, but was accused of firing eight gunshots in his garage and choking his girlfriend during an October 2015 argument near Miami, Fla.

Sharmili Majmudar, executive director of Rape Victim Advocates, a Chicago-based organization that helps victims of gender-based violence, said the news of the trade was "disappointing."

"It of course is concerning that someone who has been recently suspended for 30 games related to their behavior is then signed up by the Chicago Cubs," she said.

Following news of his trade, Chapman said he had "regret," though in May had chalked the incident up to "just an argument."

"I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry," Chapman said in a statement Monday. "Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person."

Chapman said he and his girlfriend "would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past." The couple reunited and continue to "raise our daughter together," he said.

During the October incident, police responded to Chapman's home and spoke with the victim, who said Chapman pushed her against the wall and placed his hands around her neck. Following the fight, Chapman walked out to his garage and fired his gun, police said.

Her brother separated the two, and the woman said she "ran outside because she was scared for her and her daughter," a 4-month-old who was inside the home at the time, the police report states.

In March, he was suspended for 30 games for violating the Major League Baseball domestic violence policy and lost $1.8 million of his $11.3 million salary. Two other players were also investigated during the offseason as part of the new policy.

Following the incident, Chapman was expected to participate in a counseling program, as well.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts also acknowledged the suspension and said Chapman has accepted responsibility for his actions.

"My family, this team and Major League Baseball take the issue of domestic violence very seriously, and support efforts to reduce domestic violence through education, awareness and intervention," Ricketts said.

Chapman maintained he "didn't do anything" in a May interview with the New York Times.

"People are thinking that it's something serious; I have not put my hands on anyone, didn't put anyone in danger," Chapman said. The episode was "just an argument with your partner that everyone has," he added.

ESPN called Chapman's move to Chicago a "perfect fit" for the Cubs in a statistics article. Declaring Chapman the "hardest-throwing pitcher in baseball" since 2010, the article focused on his baseball career without mentioning his suspension or the allegations.

Lauren Comitor for The Athletic, a Chicago sports news site, said the trade was "difficult to rationalize," as it "perpetuates a sports culture that normalizes domestic violence.

"In this case, the Cubs made their choice — winning — and that's fine. And as much as the Cubs players might be outwardly in favor of the Chapman trade, for obvious and understandable reasons, I wonder how they feel deep down," Comitor wrote. "I wonder how their wives and girlfriends feel. They essentially have to stick up for him in public, putting their reputations on the line, too.

Is alienating a huge portion of the fanbase, male and female, in the process really worth it?"

Majmudar said too often the conversation on domestic and sexual violence among professional athletes stops when the focus becomes the details of each individual case rather than looking at whole patterns. 

Generally speaking, Majmudar said her organization's stance is that players should be benched and not play if they are being investigated for violent crimes against women.

"I think people expect a lot of victims generally, and then they definitely expect a lot from someone harmed by someone who has a high-celebrity athlete profile," Majmudar said. "What I think that reveals mostly are two things: One, people don't really understand how domestic and sexual violence actually impact victims, and two I think people expect the criminal justice system is more effective in addressing violence against women than it actually is."

Chapman began his MLB career with the Reds in 2010 and joined up with the Yankees in December 2015. He was suspended for the first 30 games of the 2016 season and made his first appearance for the Yankees May 9.

Chicago has dozens of agencies and organizations dedicated to providing emergency shelter, services and training to victims of domestic violence.

For more information on resources, visit Between Friends Chicago, the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network and the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health.

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by an entity controlled by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.

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