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Colts Await Muhammad Decision

September 6, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ The Indianapolis Colts’ failure to act against a player convicted of beating his wife is ``reprehensible″ and tells the community that the team tolerates domestic abuse, according to a coalition of domestic violence counselors.

In separate letters sent Tuesday to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Colts president Bill Polian, the Domestic Violence Network Inc. and the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence demanded that defensive back Mustafah Muhammad be suspended for three games without pay.

``We find it reprehensible that an organization claiming to be a community partner would send a message, through its lack of action, that domestic abuse is tolerated,″ said the letter to Tagliabue, signed by Domestic Violence Network director Tracy Horth Krueger and coalition director Laura Berry.

Muhammad _ formerly known as Steve Muhammad _ was convicted last week of beating his pregnant wife on Oct. 28. He received a suspended sentence of one year in jail and was put on probation for a year.

Muhammad also was ordered to undergo 12 weeks of domestic violence counseling and to perform 32 hours of community service. The groups’ letter said they intend to ask that he be assigned to work for them.

Team leaders have consistently refused to act against Muhammad since his arrest on three counts of domestic battery and the subsequent death of his wife and their stillborn child in an unrelated car crash, saying they would let the judicial process work.

After Muhammad was convicted last week, Polian said the Colts would let the NFL decide whether he should face sanctions _ a decision strongly criticized in the local news media. Muhammad suited up for Sunday’s game at Kansas City and remains on active status, Polian said Tuesday.

The Colts must wait for the league office to consider Muhammad’s case before a suspension or other penalties can be levied, he said. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no timetable for a decision on the case.

Polian said the team will implement many of the suggestions offered in the groups’ letter, including participation in a public awareness campaign about domestic abuse.

``We’ll do as much as humanly possible,″ he said.

Muhammad’s attorney, James Voyles of Indianapolis, said he would speak for his client ``at the right time.″

``They’re entitled to write to anyone they want to write,″ Voyles said of the letters. ``I just wonder what other employers have received letters concerning employees convicted of domestic abuse this month.″

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