Now that the full 11-minute recording of Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill and his now former fiancee, Crystal Espinal, talking about violence in their relationship has been aired, many fans are saying wow, this changes everything.
It does? That Hill, who didn’t know Espinal was taping him, denies ever hitting her or their son in what he thought was a private conversation is neither surprising nor exculpatory.
Abusers typically tell not only the police but friends, family, therapists, priests and even themselves they’ve never done anything wrong.
And if anything, the fact that Hill now says he didn’t hit punch or choke Espinal in 2014 makes him look worse rather than better. He pleaded guilty to those charges, publicly apologized, went through extensive therapy and declared himself reformed after probation. If he’s now back to saying that none of this ever happened, that’s not just a lie but a worrying one.
“I didn’t touch you in 2014,” he says on the tape. “And put that on everything I love, bro. That’s the real truth.”
That Espinal isn’t screaming at him that no, it’s not the truth, real or otherwise, is taken by some supporters as proof that he is innocent.
But why a woman who has been injured by him before and he’s threatening to hurt again might not do that should be obvious.
When she instead repeatedly asks him where her bruises came from if he never hit her, he doesn’t answer because there isn’t an answer that he likes well enough to repeat.
On Thursday, Espinal filed a petition in Johnson County seeking a paternity test for their newborn twins. She has full custody of them — they live with her — and she is asking for child support and only supervised visits for Hill. Her lawyer in the matter is legal counsel for SAFEHOME, a Johnson County group that supports survivors of domestic violence.
The NFL, meanwhile, seems ready to let Hill off with a brief suspension because the legal case against him isn’t going anywhere, but these things are still true:
Hill’s son was removed from his home after a child abuse investigation was launched. The Johnson County district attorney said the 3-year-old child had been hurt, but he didn’t have enough proof to prosecute.
On the tape, we heard Hill threaten the mother of his children with physical violence: “You need to be terrified of me, too, dumb bitch.” He berates and belittles, calls her “bro” and “bitch” and of course, claims she ruined his life.
Denial of all wrongdoing is so standard in abuse cases that just a look at Thursday’s Star provides other examples, including that of Scott Hacker, the now former Parkville police officer charged with domestic violence after allegedly shooting his gun inside his home, throwing the woman who called 911 onto the couch, grabbing her by the throat and blaming her for “ending his career” by calling for help. Both before and after the cops arrived, he said he hadn’t shot the gun or touched her. But oops: A security camera in the living room apparently recorded the assault.
What Espinal was trying to get was the audio equivalent of that video.
If the NFL lets Hill back on the field this season, it will send the message that making threats and showing you’ve learned nothing from probation is no real problem, as long as you can run fast enough. The help he needs is not more denial, but just the opposite.
To the rest of you who are intent on seeing Hill as the victim, KCTV as a villain for not immediately releasing the full tape, and Espinal as a “manipulator” for wanting evidence to back her up in court, we could suggest some reading on the well-researched subject of abuse. But why, when you seem to prefer not to know?
This editorial originally misquoted one word from Hill in the audio recording. He said, “You need to be terrified,” not “scared,” “of me, too, dumb bitch.” It has been updated to correct the error.