Domestic Violence Charge Filed Against Nats' Dukes

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A woman who says she dated new Washington Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes -- a player the Nationals brought to Washington this month with hopes he would stabilize a turbulent life -- filed a domestic violence charge against him last week, according to Florida court records.

Amanda E. Reese, 23, was granted a temporary injunction for protection against domestic violence on Dec. 10, exactly a week after the Nationals acquired Dukes in a trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Reese is due in Hillsborough County court this morning, where she will seek extended protection stemming from incidents in which she says Dukes sent her threatening text messages in October and November.

Efforts to reach Reese last night were unsuccessful.

"I don't know a lot about it," Scott Pucino, Dukes's agent, said in a telephone interview last night. "I do know that it's an old issue that happened before the Washington Nationals got him. That I do know. I'm not allowed to make a lot of comments until the legal process is complete."

The case is the latest of several legal problems for Dukes, 23, with many of the problems stemming from his relations with women. His bitter divorce played out publicly in his home town of Tampa last summer, when his estranged wife shared threatening messages with the St. Petersburg Times.

When the Nationals traded a minor league pitcher for Dukes on Dec. 3, they said they believed Dukes -- who has enormous physical talent -- was committed to overcoming his past, which includes charges dating from when he was 13. His father has been in jail for second-degree murder since 1996. Since 1997, Dukes has been arrested at least three times for battery and once for assault, been hit with multiple paternity suits and admitted marijuana use.

At the time of the trade, the Nationals said they would keep Dukes in counseling and provide a support system both in Washington and in his offseason home in the Tampa area.

Though the Nationals did not publicly offer specifics, Dukes had been holding offseason workouts under the tutelage of former all-star shortstop Barry Larkin, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Larkin, an adviser to Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden, had a reputation as an exceptional leader and communicator during his playing career with the Cincinnati Reds.

"All I will say is that we have been working with him on a number of fronts since the day of the trade," Nationals President Stan Kasten said in an e-mail last night. "And since that time he has been cooperative and responsive to all of our requirements."

Kasten declined to say when the Nationals became aware of the most recent charge.

Pucino, Dukes's agent, praised the Nationals' handling of Dukes since the trade. He said he spoke to Dukes yesterday.

"He's on a very diligent program that he's been following, one that Washington put in place," Pucino said. "He's on a program to help him succeed."

The St. Petersburg Times originally posted news of the latest charge on its Web site late yesterday afternoon. Citing Reese's petition to the court, the Times said Reese wrote, "At this point, I fear for me and my child's life, due to [Dukes's] past history with his estranged wife."

According to the Times, Reese said she and Dukes dated from August to October. On Oct. 23, Dukes sent a text message saying Reese would "have to deal with the consequences," and "don't let me see you when I come home."

On Nov. 24, according to the Times's account of Reese's petition, Dukes came to Reese's home. He has since called her at odd hours, saying in one 5 a.m. phone call, according to Reese, "It's on."

Last spring, Nishea Gilbert, Dukes's estranged wife with whom he has two children, played for the Times a voicemail Dukes left for her, proclaiming, among other things, "You dead, dawg." The message went on to threaten Gilbert's children, and Dukes also sent a photo of a gun to Gilbert's phone. Gilbert had also sought and received injunctions against Dukes.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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