Tyreek Hill’s lawyer denies child abuse allegations, implicates Crystal Espinal

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At a time when the NFL has chosen to say nothing about the Tyreek Hill situation, Hill’s lawyer has said plenty.

Attorney N. Trey Pettlon has sent a four-page, single-spaced letter to the NFL, which was then obtained by (leaked to) ESPN.com. (Pettlon is the likely leaker. After all, no lawyer has ever written a four-page, single-spaced letter of which the lawyer wasn’t proud.)

In the letter to NFL special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel, Pettlon denies on Hill’s behalf any and all allegations of abusing his three-year-old son. Somewhat surprisingly, Pettlon implicates Espinal, accusing her of using a belt on their child and quoting test messages to Hill in which Espinal says, “I hurt [our son]. I’m the one that did it.”

Pettlon confirms that Hill’s voice appears on the disturbing audio that surfaced last week; predictably, Pettlon constantly refers to the audio as a “secret recording,” a device aimed at making Espinal look bad for creating it.

Secret or not, nothing changes the fact that, while arguing whether the child is terrified of Hill or respects him, Hill said to Espinal, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.” Pettlon admit that the “comment is inexcusable,” and that Hill “wouldn’t ask me to defend that here.”

Two paragraphs later, Pettlon tries to excuse and defend the comment, saying “it seems clear from the audio that Ms. Espinal is not in fact terrified of Tyreek.”

Pettlon shouldn’t be faulted for any of this. Anyone accused of wrongdoing is entitled to a defense, and Pettlon is providing that service to Hill, for a fee.

But that doesn’t mean the letter should be regarded as entirely accurate and truthful. The challenge for Pettlon is to take an ugly set of facts and spin them as positively as possible. In one specific respect, he tries a little too hard.

In the second paragraph of the letter, Pettlon confirms that the child suffered a broken arm, and Pettlon claims that the “investigation was closed with nothing about the injury to suggest it was anything but an accident.” Later in the letter, Pettlon claims that the district attorney “reviewed all the evidence . . . before he declined to prosecute either party in this case.” These contentions ignore the fact that the district attorney public declared that he believes a crime was committed against the child, and that the decision not to prosecute resulted only from an inability to prove conclusively who committed the crime.

No matter what Pettlon now says, the district attorney would have charged Hill and/or Espinal but for an inability to prove that one or the other committed the crime. The audio potentially changes that analysis, or at least possibly emboldens the district attorney to charge both of them and let the jury sort it all out.

There’s a separate problem for Hill. Pettlon wrote to Friel not to exonerate Hill in a court of law but in an effort to minimize Hill’s potential punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy. The final decision will be based in large part on whether the Commissioner finds Hill to be a credible witness, whether Espinal will cooperate with the investigation, and whether she will implicate or exculpate Hill.

The fact that Hill’s lawyer seems to blame Espinal for criminal conduct could embolden Espinal to blame the broken arm and other instances of potential abuse on Hill. Under the reduced standard of proof that applies to NFL disciplinary cases, it wouldn’t take much to trigger a ruling that Hill violated one or more provisions of the Personal Conduct Policy. And, as a practical matter, Hill’s admitted history of choking and beating Espinal while she was pregnant with the child will not cause the league office to view the evidence in the light most favorable to Hill.

69 responses to “Tyreek Hill’s lawyer denies child abuse allegations, implicates Crystal Espinal

  1. “Somewhat surprisingly, Pettlon implicates Espinal”

    How is this a surprise? When there are two possible suspects who are no longer talking to each other, isn’t it standard for one to blame the other?

  2. He also has a bridge to sell anyone who is listening…

  3. Even if it was her then Hill’s been covering for her with the police and therefore an accomplice and equally guilty. This guy has to be banned.

  4. So as his lawyer, he’s doing what he’s paid to do (truth notwithstanding). In other news, water is wet.

  5. An ancient proverb states: the first to report a claim seems to be accurate, until his opponent begins to cross examine him.

    Hill should be charged if there is evidence of the abuse, and no doubt he should be dealt with accordingly. However, this woman should not get a pass simply because she baited Hill into a conversation he had no idea was being recorded, and he all but implicated himself. This seems real scummy of an action to turn a blind eye to Crystal’s involvement.

    I remember when Donald Sterling was being outed as a racist, many weren’t happy with the comments but were equally as annoyed that the woman involved was secretly recording him and trying to coax him into a conversation he had no idea would later be revealed.

    I feel similarly about Crystal’s part in this whole fiasco. She needs to be charged as well, simply because she allegedly allowed this and covered over a crime to authorities, and then later tried to be the first to report the wrongdoing and potentially escape consequences. You don’t get to be a participant in wrongdoing and then point fingers elsewhere when it’s no longer convenient to be a silent coconspirator. They both need charged and that child needs to never be allowed to live with either of them, if the findings are true.

  6. this is proof positive that just because you have a lot of money it doesnt mean that a real good classy successful attorney will represent you

  7. Catch 22 if she takes the blame so he can get the next big contract after the season, she will most likely loose rights to child support, if she blames him his NFL will career in my eyes 99.9% its over and there’s a big difference between an NFL child support check and working a normal 9-5 guy check!!!

  8. I have always felt that Peyton Manning was way smarter than the rest of the league, but with average intelligence.

  9. No wonder why the DA couldn’t criminally charge them. It’s he say vs she say. But if those text messages are true of admitting to hurting their son, is admission of guilt is enough to legally charge her of the crime, not Tyreek.

  10. That’s who it’s been about from the start. Your recent articles about how Hill may be suspended or booted out of the league in a few days didn’t make sense. For that to happen LE must do a 180.

  11. That’s one way to go For the lawyer. Yes,my client, the father, is terrible but hey, get a load of the mother. She’s a real piece of work too!

    Can all three of them get lifetime bans?

  12. 1.) Attorneys like Pellton are human garbage.
    2.) The NFL’s silence on this matter continues to ruin their brand.
    3.) The recording of Hill is disturbing and requires action by the authorities and the NFL.

  13. Not to mention the extremely large financial incentive that family has in keeping Hill from being suspended. The NFL needs to reconsider it’s domestic dispute policy given that perverse incentive exists for the woman to bury what happened to her/her children or take the blame for it herself.

    This would also serve your desire to have teams punished for player misconduct as paying out the players salary to the person abused would remove that incentive and also keep the team from saving the money they would have paid. It’s what Geico would call a win win.

  14. Fact is, the fiancee made a SECRET recording and desperately tried multiple times to get Hill to “confess”, yet Hill actually still denies it, NOT KNOWING HE WAS BEING RECORDED.

    Seriously, a guilty husband would apologize and bribe the spouse to keep quiet. Kobe’s wife got a $4m diamond ring. Hill doesn’t even do any of that.

    I’ve changed my mind and actually think he’s the innocent party now.

  15. “Innocent until proven guilty”.
    In a criminal case.
    Preponderance of the evidence everywhere else, except the court of public opinion.
    And clearly the NFL is most concerned with public relations.

  16. If it hadn’t have been for that darned tape of Tyreek’s threatening attitude, NFL, Chiefs and many of their fans (who all chose to ignore that he assaulted pregnant Espinal in college) might have still given him the benefit of the doubt.

  17. Sad that Espinal, after being brutally assaulted by Hill remained with him, and to make matters worst, she also abused her child. Hill is, by all intents and purposes, trash, but Espinal also bears some responsibility in this sad ordeal.

  18. Heart breaks for this kid. The two people he is supposed to feel the most safe with are, in essence, fighting over who is the least abusive to him….

  19. Apparently playing football is more important than family to him. What a low blow – we all heard the audio.

  20. Anyone who didn’t see this coming raise your hand. As an earlier poster said she is not the one with the zillion dollar NFL contract so they stand to lose a lot if he is suspended. I might also add that any discussion Tyreek may have had with her previous to all of this regarding a prenuptial agreement is out the door. She may agree to take the fall, but there ain’t gonna be no prenup.

  21. So this article made me think.

    When Hunt was cut, I was asking what about Tyreek. When the audio came out on Hill, I immediately said bam him for life. And I still think he needs to be suspended.

    But when I heard that audio, I did also feel like she was trying to get him to admit things. It felt very scripted.

    So what if Crystal is really the child abuser and broke the arm, and she’s just trying to implicate Hill?

    I guess I’m saying the I don’t believe in the rush to judgment any more. Too bad the NFL is a long way down this slippery slope.

    Most importantly, let’s hope the kid gets placed in a stable situation and Tyreek and Crystal get whatever help they need.

  22. I don’t understand how people can defend Hill here. He’s clearly not right of mind. Would any father here EVER say what Hill said to her in that audio recording? Would any of you beat your pregnant girlfriend/wife in the stomach and choke her out? I hope the answer is a resounding “NO!” Because no matter how upset I’ve ever been at my wife, mentally or physically abusing her would NEVER cross my mind. Ever. And certainly never towards my 3 YEAR OLD child. I was disciplined growing up, but what this woman and child went through is assault by a deadly weapon. This is one of the most physically gifted athletes in the league and he’s harmed a woman and his own child (I’m counting the previous conviction as assault against the child since she was pregnant and he purposefully hit her in the stomach). Think about that, this dude tried to end that child’s life when it wasn’t even born yet. Unbelievable. Lock him up.

  23. KC fans will welcome him back. Or they can trade him to another team that will be happy to have him. I suggest Cincy or Dallas.

  24. She has a 100 million reasons to take the fall or at least half. This is just sad, he and she both need serious counseling before they ever go near another child. Not sure how a ban for life helps anyone but I wouldnt disagree with it at all.

  25. She has a 100 million reasons to take the fall or at least half. This is just sad, he and she both need serious counseling before they ever go near another child.

  26. To make matters worse, she is now 7 months pregnant with twins! She needs to take all the kids and get away from him…and if his career is down the tubes, at least she is college educated…she will need to get a job!!! Why are they having more kids?????

  27. Those texts are very clearly staged and from a woman with a history of being abused. It looks like an attempt to salvage his career but the audio seems to tell the truth. Even more sad that the Chiefs and NFL are waiting in hopes to manufacture an exit plan here. There is still only one option here. This guys can’t be participating in the playoffs or helping a team win a super bowl. What kind of damage would that bring to the league and Chiefs. What if he is Super Bowl MVP? Are we okay with that? A one year ban seems appropriate and he should lose custody. This family needs to step away from the game for a year and get their priorities straight.

  28. Wow, that appears to be gutter-level desperation.

    I don’t think this is what Chris Carter had in mind when he spoke of having a ‘fall guy’.

  29. In that leaked audio, Espinal asks Hill directly if he broke their childs arm. He says “I didnt do nothing”. Which means that she did not see him breaking the childs arm. So for that incident, the audio is not useful.

  30. rohanz2000 says:
    May 2, 2019 at 1:51 pm
    Spin it all you want. He is guilty in peoples minds. Period.

    45 22 Rate This
    A lot of closed mines out there! He’s convicted based on bits and pieces of hearsay evidence, pay no attention to what really happened.

  31. The police have said this whole time that Hill was not the one originally under investigation.

  32. I do think Tyreek has a chance now..derelict parenting by a fiery couple in a toxic relationship. They separate for good and maybe Tyreek plays again for the Chiefs or Cleveland(of course).

  33. Everyone should expect this, parents blaming each other. But the way I see it they’re both guilty.

  34. I have 3 kids. 14, 10, and a 3 year old. And THIS IS DESPICABLE…NO DOUBT. I am though going to pmay devils advocate just for a moment.The DA could not file charges initially bc of a lack of evidence to charge..right? So now bc of this recording where this dumbass Hill says to the mother she should be afraid of him this proves guilt that he hurt this child? Come on…reaching Id say. Just to make this clear…I am NOT SAYING HES INNOCENT. BUT THIS RECORDING DOESNT PROVE GUILT. If anyrhing it proves hes a POS who doesnt respect his childs mother. And if it was her the doesnt mean he knows that for a fact and is covering for her. I couldnt care less if hes banned from the leaugue. Im simply saying the recording proves nothing i. Regards to who hurt this poor child. I do hope for the childs safety and quality of life moving forward that the truth is uncovered and the child ends up in a safe loving enviroment. No child especially a 3 year old deserves what was done to him.

  35. Anyone else just totally annoyed by our justice system? Kids arm didn’t break itself but of course nobody was at fault and there’s nothing to see here.

  36. Dudes a scumbag. No doubt. But how does this recording prove his guilt?! He denies it during the recording that he was unaware was taking place!!

  37. The precedent of’more likely than not’ as somehow established in the evidence-free magic deflation punishment is clearly met here. There is a 50.1 or better (my guess is 100%) chance that this guy actively abuses a woman and a child.

    Lifetime ban and let the impotent NFLPA lose in court on appeal.

  38. I’m don’t know if Tyreek Hill broke his son’s arm, or if Espinal did, but I do know that I do not trust either of them with that child.

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