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Will Cordero charged with beating wifeBy Judy Rakowsky and Gordon Edes, Globe Staff, 06/12/97
CAMBRIDGE - Red Sox outfielder Wilfredo Cordero was arrested early yesterday on charges of beating his wife and threatening to kill her, then released on bail within an hour.
In an apparent violation of an emergency restraining order, Cordero then returned to their apartment overlooking the Charles River, where, police said, he kept a Cambridge detective from photographing his wife's injuries.
Ana Cordero swore out an affidavit about the abuse, describing how her husband allegedly struck her with a telephone receiver and tried to choke her, but in court hours later, in the presence of four Red Sox officials and two lawyers for her husband, she withdrew the complaint. At the conclusion of the hearing, Cordero called to his wife, and they walked out of the courtroom hand-in-hand.
Cordero, 25, entered a plea of not guilty to charges of assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The episode allegedly occurred about 1:30 a.m., less than two hours after a doubleheader between the Red Sox and Orioles.
Cordero's next court appearance is July 24, when the Red Sox host the Oakland A's at Fenway Park. He did not play in last night's game.
Last night, Middlesex District Attorney Thomas Reilly called Ana Cordero's refusal to testify against her husband a "classic domestic violence case," and said her husband got preferential treatment because he is a professional ballplayer.
"He never should have been released last night," said Reilly. "He threatened to kill her in front of the police and then when he's bailed out he immediately violates a court order." Reilly said it is very rare for a person accused of domestic violence to be immediately released.
Prosecutors sought yesterday afternoon to have Cordero jailed under a recent change in the bail law allowing a judge to consider potential danger to a spouse as grounds for holding a defendant. But District Judge Arthur Sherman rejected that after Ana Cordero declined to testify against her husband. She said she did not fear Cordero and planned to resume their marital relationship.
The district attorney said the system is tipped against victims of domestic violence.
"He is dangerous, but he walks out of here and goes to play ball," said Reilly. "The burden is all on her. That's a sure sign that something is wrong with the system.
"It's very intimidating," Reilly said. "She has to face him, she has to face the courts and she has to face the Red Sox."
Wendy Murphy, a Boston attorney who specializes in women's and victims' rights, said: "I think special treatment for athletes is historical for a host of reasons. First you have their status as an athlete, and then you have their status as a celebrity."
Were Cordero an average citizen, Murphy said, "They would absolutely hold him overnight."
The assistant district attorney who tried to have Cordero jailed yesterday afternoon on the dangerousness provision said prosecutors would not have moved for it if they had not feared for her safety. "She's going through a variety of different emotions," said Anne Edwards, "and she's the one who has to go home and live with this man."
The emergency restraining order was issued by an on-call judge over the telephone. Cambridge Police Officer Sean Tierney testified that he handed Cordero the order when he was released at 4 a.m. on $200 bail set by a court official who had been called to the police department to review the case and determine an appropriate bail. Tierney said he even instructed Cordero's taxi driver to take him to a hotel.
Ana Cordero had planned to seek refuge with friends after the arrest, but Tierney said he told her there was little chance that her husband would be released on bail yesterday morning.
Court documents and Tierney's testimony yesterday described the events that led to the outfielder's arrest this way:
Cordero came home intoxicated at about 1:30 a.m. and the couple had a chilly conversation.
A short while later, he allegedly came in the bedroom and began an argument, poking her in the face and chest with his fingertips hard enough to leave red marks that police would notice later.
At that point, Ana Cordero said she tried to pick up the phone to summon police. But Cordero, she said, snatched the receiver away and hit her in the head with it.
After Cordero allegedly tried to choke her, she broke free. She said she ran to the lobby clad only in a shirt and underwear, and her 15-year-old son followed with some shorts for her to put on.
She ran down the hall and asked the guard to dial 911, but Cordero followed her, said Edwards.
The outfielder ordered the security guard not to call police, saying, "I pay the bills around here."
Cambridge police reported receiving a 911 hangup from the Cordero apartment building. When a dispatcher called back, she reported that a man answered, but a woman was screaming in the background. The man refused to let the dispatcher speak to the woman, reports say.
Officers went to the complex on Cambridge Parkway and found Ana Cordero in the hallway bleeding from her nose and hyperventilating, Tierney testified.
Cordero admitted to police that he had struck his wife, and they decided to arrest him, Tierney said.
After he was under arrest, however, Cordero asked if he could kiss his 9-month-old daughter good night. When police agreed, Cordero allegedly did so, then spoke forcefully to Ana Cordero in Spanish. She turned to police and said that Cordero was threatening to kill her, Tierney testified.
Then Ana Cordero's son began crying, and said that Cordero was threatening to kill his mother.
After yesterday afternoon's court hearing, Cordero and his wife were taken to Fenway Park together by a Red Sox official. Cordero, who makes $3 million annually, was in uniform for last night's game against the Orioles but did not play.
General manager Dan Duquette said that Cordero would receive counseling from the team's employee assistance program. "Our concern right now is for Ana and Wilfredo Cordero and their entire family," Duquette said.
Duquette declined to answer whether there was any prior history of domestic abuse, saying that it is a private matter.
Cordero came to the Red Sox on Jan. 10, 1996, in a trade with the Montreal Expos. He missed most of last season with a fractured right tibia, but began this season as the team's starting left fielder. Recently, he became the team's cleanup hitter, batting behind Mo Vaughn.
Cordero met with teammates before the game.
"I worry about him," said Mo Vaughn, who dresses in the cubicle next to Cordero both at home and on the road. "He's my friend, he's my locker mate. We pretty much do everything together on the ballclub."
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