From Nationals Journal we get this brief summary:
When the Nationals acquired Dukes on Dec. 3, 2007, from Tampa Bay, the team that drafted him, they knew they were taking a risk. Dukes had talent; Washington saw that much last year, when he smacked 13 home runs, batted .264, and led all regulars in slugging percentage. But Dukes was also known for a history of legal troubles. He has been arrested three times for battery, once for assault. And in the spring of 2007, as Nishea Dukes filed for divorce, Dukes left her a voice mail that threatened her life and the lives of her children.A few things they left out:
- Two of his battery arrests happened when he was 13 and 14 years old. Because he was a minor, the details of these arrests aren't public, but we do know that 'battery' could mean that he got in a fight on the playground. And we do know that the first of these arrests happened about a year after his father was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Elijah's mom's cocaine dealer. Can't imagine why he might have been a troubled teen.
- Dukes's "assault" arrest was for throwing a remote control at Gilbert. Charges were never filed.
- Nishea Gilbert was once arrested for battery against Dukes--she apparently scratched his back.
- He's never killed anyone, tried to kill anyone, or been associated with anything remotely close to an attempted murder or gun crime.
- When Gilbert received the supposed 'death threat' text message, she didn't call the police. She called the St. Pete Times (which is what you do when you want to embarrass your ex-husband, not when you're afraid for your life).
- Being arrested isn't the same as being convicted.
It's important to note that he has been convicted of a violent crime in his life--just one, but a serious one nonetheless. He pleaded no contest to a battery charge for punching and choking his sister. I don't at all mean to minimize the severity of that crime by pointing out the bogus nature of the other incidents listed.
Whenever these stories get written, I wonder why the media is so bent on casting Dukes in the worst possible light. Why go so far out of your way to omit mitigating circumstances? Why present information in a way that it implies more than actually happened? Why is the word "JAIL" screaming in every headline when he obviously isn't going to jail? It's slanted, sensationalistic journalism.
Is Dukes a good guy? I don't know--never met the guy. But given his background and family situation as a child, the statistics would say he's beaten the odds just to be alive and out of jail. Watching him on the field and listening to his rare press appearances, he doesn't seem like a sociopath. I read these stories, and it reminds me of the knuckleheads on Springer, not Rae Carruth. Really, I think this kind of smut doesn't belong in the papers at all. Just leave the guy alone.