Bears release Ray McDonald following domestic violence arrest

The Chicago Bears released defensive end Ray McDonald after he was arrested on charges of domestic violence and child endangerment in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday.

Police were called to a disturbance at 3:48 a.m. at an apartment in Santa Clara, only to find that McDonald had left to go to a friend’s home in San Jose. McDonald was arrested around 7 a.m. at the home of retired 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, a former teammate.

Police Lt. Kurt Clarke said in a news release that McDonald was arrested after officers said he “physically assaulted the victim while she was holding a baby.”

The alleged victim is McDonald’s ex-fiancee, who had been residing with the child in an apartment paid for by McDonald, according to NBC Bay Area, which first reported the arrest.

This was the third incident in the past nine months involving accusations against McDonald for domestic violence or sexual assault.

Upon releasing him Monday, Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in a statement, “We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear. He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him.”

McDonald was arrested Aug. 31 on suspicion of felony domestic violence in San Jose, Calif., but no charges were filed because of insufficient evidence. His ex-fiancee reportedly also was involved in that incident.

San Jose police then began an investigation into an alleged sexual assault on Dec. 16. Police have not charged him or cleared him, but the San Francisco 49ers released McDonald on Dec. 17 amid that investigation, with general manager Trent Baalke citing a “pattern of poor decision making.”

The league has continued to look into the alleged sexual assault. McDonald has sued his accuser for defamation, claiming that footage from his home surveillance system shows their sexual encounter was “clearly consensual.” She has sued him in return.

The Bears signed McDonald in March to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, and last month the NFL cleared him in the first domestic-violence investigation.

“I had two incidents (in which) I feel like I didn’t do anything wrong, but still it’s in the spotlight,” McDonald said last month. “It was in the national spotlight for quite some time. I’m just trying to move forward from it.”

Bears chairman George McCaskey said he initially vetoed Pace’s request to sign McDonald.

McCaskey said he changed his mind about McDonald after a face-to-face meeting and a phone call to McDonald’s parents.

“We have a 96-year tradition of doing things a certain way, of bringing a certain type of player into our team,” McCaskey said in March. “And those were my concerns going into the conversation with Ray. But I think you look at every situation individually. You try to find out as much information as you can that’s reliable to make the best decision you can about whether to offer a player the privilege of becoming a Chicago Bear.

“I was impressed with how sincere he was and how motivated he is. He understands, I think, that he could have well been facing the end of his football career. And he loves football, and he wants that career to continue. So I was impressed with his motivation.

“I told him that my assessment was ‘bad decision-making,’ allowing himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or not withdrawing from a situation at the appropriate time. And I told him, if he’s to remain a Bear, that needs to improve. And he pledged to me that it would.”

Since 2011, McDonald has started 56 games for the 49ers, including 14 last season. He had 39 tackles and three sacks in 2014. In his eight-year career, all with the 49ers, McDonald has 210 tackles, 19 1/2 sacks and one interception.

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