Phillip Merling, Defensive End, Accused of Battery of His Pregnant Girlfriend
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Position: Defensive End
Height / Weight: 6'5" / 315 lbs
College: Clemson University
NFL draft: 2008 / Round: 2 / Pick: 32
Career history: Miami Dolphins (2008–2011), Green Bay Packers (2012), Washington Redskins (2013)
On May 27, 2010, in Weston, FL, Phillip Merling was arrested and charged with aggravated domestic battery on a pregnant woman, stemming from an alleged incident with Kristen Lennon. Lennon, who was two months pregnant with the couple's second child, had visible injuries on her face following the incident, including redness and a laceration on her lip.
According to a New York Times report published in 2014, Stuart Weinstein, the Dolphins' longtime security director, started reaching out to his contacts in the Broward County Sheriff's Office "minutes after Mr. Merling was taken into custody." According to the Times report, a commander told Weinstein that he would notify him when Merling's bond was posted. After being released, according to an internal report conducted by the sheriff's office to investigate potential inappropriate conduct related to the case, Merling was allowed to leave the jail through the back door, avoiding reporters, and was driven in an unmarked car by an off-duty officer to the Dolphins' training complex. He was then driven home—a home he shared with Lennon—in order to retrieve his personal belongings, even though a judge had warned Merling to avoid all potential contact with Lennon.
The New York Times surmised, based on interviews with Lennon and a review of police documents, that Merling carried out a "pattern of continuing harassment" with Lennon while he continued to play in the NFL. Lennon told the Times that she was subjected to "threatening text messages and angry outbursts that left dents in her car and front door."
Merling was never suspended from the league, and the case was later dropped because Lennon did not appear to testify. Lennon told the Times that she let the case go because she was late in her pregnancy, could not travel and was not up to the pressures of testifying."
Merling did not return Broadly's request for comment.