Ex-49er’s ac­cuser: I lied in court

Re­cant­ing her story: ‘I did what I had to do for the per­son I love’

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Sa­longa and Cam In­man Staff writ­ers

In a marked turn­around, Elissa En­nis now says she lied un­der oath in May to save Reuben Fos­ter’s San Fran­cisco 49ers ca­reer, and is stand­ing by her lat­est claims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence against him.

The lat­est rev­e­la­tion about al­leged do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in­volv­ing Fos­ter in­cluded En­nis’ claim that the 49ers tried to sup­press her lat­est ac­cu­sa­tion, which led to his Nov. 24 ar­rest and re­lease from the team last month. Santa Clara County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Jeff Rosen said his of­fice will not pur­sue per­jury charges against En­nis, but her ABC News in­ter­view that aired Thurs­day gives pros­e­cu­tors an­other claim to ex­am­ine as they eval­u­ate whether to pur­sue a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion for Fos­ter, and per­haps even re­file charges.

“I did what I had to do for the per­son I love,” En­nis told the net­work about re­cant­ing in court her story of a Feb. 11 in­ci­dent at their Los Gatos home. “I thought that he would change.”

“Any­body in my po­si­tion, they would’ve done the same thing if they shared a fam­ily with this per­son,” En­nis said. “He used to come cry­ing to me and tell me he didn’t have any­body. If some­body you love come cry­ing to you, telling you that they didn’t have any­body, you’d do the same thing, too. That’s why I did what I did, be­cause I loved him.”

Fos­ter was ar­rested Nov. 24 at the 49ers team ho­tel in Tampa, Flor­ida, on the eve of their game against the Buc­ca­neers, af­ter En­nis called po­lice and ac­cused him of abuse.

When po­lice ar­rived at the ho­tel af­ter her 911

call, she al­leged the 49ers weren’t help­ful, telling ABC News: “I have pic­tures of the 49ers com­ing up there try­ing, try­ing to talk to the po­lice, say­ing I’m the same ex- girl­friend that sat up there and lied.”

The team re­but­ted En­nis’ ac­count about their in­volve­ment in the case.

“The 49ers fully co­op­er­ated with au­thor­i­ties, as­sisted in lo­cat­ing Mr. Fos­ter and in no way im­peded their in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” a team spokesman said.

The 49ers re­leased Fos­ter the fol­low­ing day be­fore he posted a $2,000 bond out of a Tampa jail. Wash­ing­ton’s NFL fran­chise claimed him off waivers, catch­ing many by sur­prise, in­clud­ing En­nis, who told ABC News: “When he got signed, I was like, ‘I can’t be­lieve some- body picked him up.’ ”

Santa Clara County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Nona Klip­pen dis­missed do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence charges against Fos­ter in May, a week af­ter En­nis tes­ti­fied she fab­ri­cated her al­le­ga­tions out of fi­nan­cial mo­tives and the quest to end Fos­ter’s ca­reer.

In de­scrib­ing the Feb. 11 in­ci­dent to ABC News, En­nis echoed many of her ini­tial claims to po­lice: “Reuben threw my clothes off the bal­cony. He threw my stuff out the house. He dragged me down the stairs two, three times. He punched me in my face two, three times. Pulled me by my hair. Kicked me. Spit on me.”

She re­canted that story shortly af­ter­ward to po­lice and again in court in May. Why? “Be­cause I loved him, and love will have you do­ing things that’s not in your best in­ter­est be­cause (of) the per­son you love,” En­nis said.

“He in­vited me to come see him in Flor­ida, and I came and he took one of my phones and he slapped me and pushed me,” En­nis added. “I told him I was go­ing to tell his new girl­friend that he paid for my flight out there, so that’s what trig­gered it.”

Pros­e­cu­tors were skep­ti­cal when En­nis re­canted ear­lier this year but stated they don’t pur­sue false re­port­ing or per­jury charges against do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence vic­tims, out of sen­si­tiv­ity to a po­ten­tial chill­ing ef­fect that could have on vic­tims who al­ready fear they won’t be be­lieved by au­thor­i­ties. Rosen re­stated that stance Thurs­day.

“It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that many vic­tims of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence re­cant, min­i­mize, and may even blame them­selves for the abuse that they suf­fer at the hands of their part­ner,” Rosen said in a state­ment. “Our goal is to seek and present the truth and hold do­mes­tic vi­o­lence abusers crim­i­nally ac­count­able. As such, our of­fice does not be­lieve that jus­tice would be served by pros­e­cut­ing Ms. En­nis for deny­ing the abuse that Mr. Fos­ter in­flicted on her.”

Fos­ter’s ar­rest in Tampa ex­poses him to a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion — he pleaded no con­test to mis­de­meanor pos­ses­sion of an as­sault weapon, the only sur­viv­ing charge from his Fe­bru­ary do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence ar­rest in Los Gatos. It could also give the Santa Clara County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice cause to re­visit that case, though some le­gal ex­perts con­sider a suc­cess­ful se­cond prose­cu­tion a long shot.

“We’re look­ing at a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion and other le­gal op­tions,” Rosen said in an in­ter­view Thurs­day. “We haven’t made a de­ci­sion yet, in part be­cause he has a case in Flor­ida, and we’ll wait for au­thor­i­ties there to pros­e­cute that case.”

Steven Clark, a crim­i­nal- de­fense at­tor­ney and for­mer county prose­cu­tor who has fol­lowed the Fos­ter case, said En­nis could still be called to tes­tify if pros­e­cu­tors pur­sue a pro­ba­tion vi­o­la­tion for Fos­ter.

“Ms. En­nis could be called as a wit­ness rel­a­tive to the Tampa ar­rest,” Clark said. “The DA would be able to re- eval­u­ate her cred­i­bil­ity rel­a­tive to the Los Gatos in­ci­dent in as­sess­ing whether to re­file do­mes­ticvi­o­lence charges.”

Af­ter the Tampa ar­rest, Santa Clara po­lice con­firmed they were called the night of Oct. 12 to a high­end apart­ment com­plex on Lick Mill Boule­vard near the team’s train­ing fa­cil­ity and Levi’s Sta­dium for re­ports of a do­mes­tic dis­pute in­volv­ing the mer­cu­rial cou­ple af­ter En­nis re­port­edly saw ma­te­rial on Fos­ter’s cell­phone that she didn’t like.

There were no al­le­ga­tions of any phys­i­cal at­tack, and of­fi­cers did not see any signs of in­jury to ei­ther per­son. They took a re­port and left.

Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the Na­tional Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Hot­line, de­clined to com­ment specif­i­cally on the Fos­ter al­le­ga­tions but voiced sym­pa­thy for En­nis’ po­si­tion as a vic­tim.

“Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is never okay and the blame for abu­sive be­hav­ior is solely the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the abu­sive part­ner,” RayJones said in a state­ment. “Whether it be for their chil­dren, their pets, their fam­ily, a lack of fi­nan­cial means, fear of their abu­sive part­ner, and even love, a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence vic­tim may choose to stay in an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship. Our ex­pe­ri­ence tells us that sur­vivors will leave and re­turn ap­prox­i­mately seven times be­fore they leave their abuser for good.”


Elissa En­nis, right, leaves Santa Clara County Su­pe­rior Court with her at­tor­ney in May af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing that she fab­ri­cated al­le­ga­tions that 49ers line­backer Reuben Fos­ter beat her.

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