CLEARWATER, Fla. — In his first meeting with the media since signing a one-year deal with the Phillies, right-handed reliever Jeurys Familia told reporters he believes he “paid for what happened” after the incident between him and his wife, Bianca Rivas, that occurred in Fort Lee, N.J. in 2016.
Familia, then with the Mets, was arrested on Oct. 31, 2016 on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, after the Fort Lee police filed a complaint against Familia, saying that they “found probable cause to believe that domestic violence had occurred.”
“Everything, since I was a child, is a learning experience,” Familia said in Spanish. “I’ve paid for what took place. I’m content with my wife now, my family, now that it is in the past.”
The authorities initially believed Familia caused a scratch to Rivas’ chest, and a bruise to her right cheek, but Rivas later told the police the scratch was caused by her son, and the bruise was self-inflicted. The police found two knives on the ground; Rivas told the police that Familia wedged them into a bathroom door to lock himself in the bathroom after they got into a dispute. According to the arrest report, Familia said he’d shouldered a bedroom door out of frustration.
The misdemeanor charge was later dropped, at Rivas’ insistence. After investigating the incident, MLB found that while Familia “didn’t physically assault his wife, or threaten her or others with physical force or harm” that day, he did violate MLB’s domestic violence policy. He was suspended for 15 games at the beginning of the 2017 season.
As part of his suspension, Familia was required to speak to an MLB rookie program in the United States and the Dominican Republic, as well as a domestic violence group in New York. He agreed to donate to a charity that supports domestic violence victims, and also underwent multiple 90-minute counseling sessions.
When asked what he especially learned from the program, Familia chose to focus on his current relationship with Rivas.
“One learns from one’s mistakes,” Familia said. “Specifically, I’ve always gotten along well with my family. Those are lessons that happen. I’m a man, trying to do the right thing and I paid for what happened. It’s always going to stay with me. But we’re good.”
Familia is the second player who has been charged with domestic violence to earn a major league contract from the Phillies in the past few days. Center fielder Odúbel Herrera was signed to a one-year deal after Familia, and was arrested in May of 2019 following a report of domestic violence involving his 20-year-old girlfriend at the time.
The police report said she had “visible signs of injury to her arms and neck that was sustained after being assaulted by her boyfriend, David Odúbel Herrera, during a dispute.” Herrera was charged with simple assault. The charges were later dropped when his girlfriend declined to proceed with the case, but MLB suspended him for the rest of the season.