Sports | April 19, 2021 12:41 pm

NFL Star Aaron Donald Cleared of Assaulting Accuser

De'Vincent Spriggs apologized after falsely accusing Donald of attacking him at a Pittsburgh-area nightclub

Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams at the NFC Wild Card Playoff game
Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams at a game against the Seattle Seahawks in January 2021.
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As just the third person in history to be voted defensive player of the year three times, L.A. Rams star Aaron Donald clearly is not like most other NFL players.

That apparently applies off the field too, because Donald, unlike many of his peers, was found to be not guilty after being accused of assault.

Attorney Todd J. Hollis filed a criminal complaint last week on behalf of De’Vincent Spriggs alleging his client needed 16 stitches and suffered a broken orbital bone, a broken nose, a concussion and other injuries after he was assaulted by Donald and others at a Pittsburgh-area nightclub.

Donald’s lawyer Casey White said what really happened is that Spriggs swung a bottle at Donald’s head and was assaulted by other partygoers before his client intervened on the attacker-turned-victim’s behalf as part of an effort to break things up. “He actually saved Mr. Spriggs from further injury,” White told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s fantastic, from a defense attorney’s perspective, to be honest with you.”

A surveillance video from the scene that surfaced over the weekend confirmed White’s account of the encounter and led Hollis to issue an apology from Spriggs. “I wanted to make this statement public. And to extend an apology to Aaron for what he’s gone through, but I clearly know this was not him,” Hollis said in a statement to KDKA in Pittsburgh.

After the conclusion of the case, which never made it into the courtroom, Rams COO Kevin Demoff said the events show why rushing to judgment isn’t the best course of action and why the organization said they were “collecting more information” when the allegations first surfaced.

“I think we’re in an era of cell phones and videos,” Demoff told the Los Angeles Daily News. “I think one of the things, it’s always good to let situations play out. That’s true in a particular time like this, when it appears to vindicate the player, and it’s true, unfortunately, if it hadn’t. I think it’s cliché to say we’ll let the legal process play out. This is one where it may have happened quickly. We will see how it concludes. I think we’ll just continue to let the story unfold the way it is.”

It is great news that Demoff and the Rams were right in this circumstance and that Donald, who is 29 and has spent all seven years of his NFL career with L.A., had his name cleared. Given how often things play out the other way and accusations made against NFL players turn out to be true, it’s a refreshing change. It goes without saying the league would benefit greatly from more outcomes like this and perhaps there is a small chance this will influence how it handles the case of Deshaun Watson.