The lawyer for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov said he interviewed the victim of Voynov's alleged domestic abuse incident for more than an hour Tuesday and, "it's clear to me there was no crime here," and doubts his client will even be charged with an offense.
Craig Renetzky, a criminal lawyer who is representing Voynov in the matter, said the language barrier, both on the part of Voynov and the alleged victim, has created a misunderstanding and that the victim's injuries that caused her to be hospitalized were the result of an accident. Voynov was arrested early Monday morning at a Los Angeles area hospital after staff at the hospital notified police of a possible domestic abuse case. Voynov was immediately suspended indefinitely by the NHL, but has yet to be charged with anything pending a police investigation.
"Hopefully, the police will get that," Renetzky said. "And we're hoping the NHL looks at the new evidence and will lift the suspension. What the police will find out when they talk to her is that the action was not related to Mr. Voynov. I can't go into complete details, but Mr. Voynov never hit the woman. This is really just a pure accident and we're going to provide them with some additional evidence we hope they'll present to the District Attorney's office. And if they do, based on my experience, they don't have a case.
"I think if the authorities act properly and do a complete investigation, they will have to find that charges are not warranted."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has no comment on Renetzky's claims, saying it's still too early in the process. He also said the league will not reconsider Voynov's suspension in light of Renetzky's comments. "Don't intend to give status reports on investigations, except as necessary or perhaps as to a timeline," Daly said in an email to thn.com. "On the latter part, the timeline is still uncertain."
Renetzky said he hopes authorities will proceed quickly, saying he hopes this can be cleared up before Voynov's Dec. 1 court date. If it stretches that long, Voynov will have missed 18 games for the Kings. But he also acknowledged that the case could drag beyond the court date and, in reality, prosecutors have years to file a felony charge, which would leave the league no choice but to deal with Voynov's contract status with the Kings. "We're hoping for a quick resolution with no charges filed," Renetzky said.
Renetzky said after talking to the alleged victim, who is Russian and whose command of the English language is not good, he's confident there was no criminal activity. He also took issue with the NHL's handling of the issue, saying it's his belief the NHL has presumed Voynov guilty before any evidence has been presented. He said there's no doubt in his mind the recent bungling of alleged domestic assault cases in the National Football League prompted the league to be far too heavy-handed.
"I think the league has gone extremely overboard," Renetzky said. "In this country for the past 200 years, we've presumed people to be innocent until proven otherwise and the NHL has basically in this case said, 'Well, OK, there was an allegation made, not even from the victim, not even from the woman. It's just based on reports and you're suspended indefinitely.' That's completely anti-American, I hate to say.
"This case is so different from a situation where a football player punches a woman and it's on video tape. I can understand the league taking some kind of action in that case because if there's a presumption of innocence, maybe it's been overcome by something like this. There's nothing like that in this case. And I think the league, in an overcautious attempt to protect its name, has gone the other way. And I think there has to be a happy medium."
Renetzky said Voynov is eager to have his name cleared and get back on the ice. Initially, he was very confused because he didn't know what was going on. He's hoping to get some private ice time to practice on his own so he'll be prepared if and when the NHL lifts the suspension.
We have reached out to the Redondo Beach Police Department for comment and will update our reports after/if we hear from police.