Advocate group for domestic violence victims questions NASCAR’s reinstatement of Kurt Busch

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The National Network to End Domestic Violence issued an open letter this week to NASCAR Chairman Brian France stating its “deep concern” regarding the sanctioning body’s decision to reinstate Kurt Busch.

NASCAR suspended Busch Feb. 20 after a Kent County (Del.) Family Court Commissioner concluded that “it is more likely than not” that Busch committed an act of domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend in September 2014. Busch denied doing anything he was accused of by his ex-girlfriend.

The Delaware Department of Justice later stated that it would not seek charges against Busch. NASCAR reinstated Busch six days after that decision.

In its letter, the National Network to End Domestic Violence wrote:

“We find it troubling that just a few weeks after NASCAR suspended Mr. Busch for what it called the “serious nature of the findings and conclusions made by the Commissioner of the Family Court of the State of Delaware” the organization, without explanation, changed its position. It is important to note that the protective order issued by the Delaware court, which served as the basis for your original decision, still remains in place today — in other words: nothing changed legally, yet NASCAR walked away from its stance against domestic violence. Additionally, it is important to recognize that the decision by the prosecutor to not move forward has no bearing on whether or not the assault actually took place.’’

NASCAR stated among the reasons for reinstating Busch was that no charges were filed against him.

“As we stated last week, the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges removed a significant impediment to Kurt Busch’s return to full status as a NASCAR member,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, in a statement March 11. “We therefore have decided to move him to indefinite probation and waive the Chase requirement. He has fully complied with our reinstatement program during his suspension and the health care expert who conducted his evaluation recommended his immediate return.

“We have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior.”

The National Network to End Domestic Violence ended its letter by Kim Gandy, the organization’s president and CEO, by stating: “In order to put an end to domestic violence and the perceptions that perpetuate it, organizations like NASCAR need to stand firmly against this kind of behavior. We urge NASCAR to follow the lead of other major sports organizations and work toward ending all violence against women. Leaders from NNEDV would like to meet with you and your colleagues to discuss domestic violence and how your decision to abandon your suspension sends the wrong message on this important issue.’’