SANTA CLARA, Calif. (CBS SF/AP) — San Francisco general manager John Lynch says the team will be patient through linebacker Reuben Foster’s legal issues in a domestic violence case but stressed he won’t remain on the 49ers if the team determines he hit a woman.
Lynch spoke publicly Monday for the first time since Foster was charged with felony domestic violence on April 12 after being accused by authorities of dragging his girlfriend and punching her in the head, leaving her with a ruptured eardrum.
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The 49ers announced a few days later that Foster would not take part in the offseason program while he deals with the legal matter. Lynch said the team wants to get more information about the case before making a final decision on Foster’s status.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said the charges stem from a violent attack on his live-in girlfriend at the couple’s Los Gatos home.
Prosecutors said Foster was charged with three felonies — domestic violence with an allegation that he inflected great bodily injury, forcefully preventing a victim from reporting a crime and illegal possession of an assault weapon.
The 28-year-old is also charged with misdemeanor possession of a large caliber weapon. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to 11 years in prison.
“Our focus is on holding accountable those who hurt their intimate partners,” said deputy DA Kevin Smith in a prepared statement. “Our office handles between four and five thousand domestic violence cases each year. We only hope that this case illuminates the tragic regularity of the rest.”
The 49ers, who cut then starting cornerback Tremaine Brock in 2017 after he was arrested on domestic violence charges, said Foster would remain on the team roster for now.
“The 49ers organization is aware of today’s disturbing charges regarding Reuben Foster,” the team said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to follow this serious matter. Reuben is aware that his place in our organization is under great scrutiny and will depend on what is learned through the legal process.”
According to the DA’s office, on Feb. 11th the victim flagged down a stranger’s car driving on Shannon Road in Los Gatos and asked for help. When officers arrived, the girlfriend told them that Foster had dragged by her hair, physically threw her out of the house and punched her 8-10 times in the head.
She was taken to a local hospital and treated for her injuries.
A subsequent search of the couple’s home uncovered an assault weapon — a Sig Sauer 516 — along with a large capacity magazine. Both are illegal to possess in California.
It wasn’t the first time Foster — the 49ers first round draft pick in 2017 — has run into trouble with the law since his rookie season ended. he was arrested in mid-January while being back in Tuscaloosa, Ala. where he starred for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. He has been charged with second-degree marijuana possession.
Foster could face a six-game suspension from the NFL if he is formally charged with domestic violence. A second charge could lead to a lifetime ban.