Details emerge in Predators forward Austin Watson's domestic-assault case

Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

New details have emerged that paint a clearer picture of the domestic-assault case against Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson

The 26-year-old Watson was arrested on suspicion of domestic assault on June 16 at a gas station in Franklin, Tennessee. After a police officer was flagged down by a witness, Watson told police that he had been engaged in an argument with his girlfriend and admitted to pushing her during the altercation. Watson's girlfriend had red marks on her chest, and she said that Watson was responsible for them.

According to the Tennessean, Newly released police reports say that the witness saw Watson "swat" his girlfriend and preventing her from exiting their SUV in the parking lot of the gas station. When police arrived, the victim initially denied that Watson had touched her, but later said he was responsible for the injuries on her chest. The report also stated that her left shin was bruised and bloody, but it did not explicitly attribute those injuries to Watson.

Watson's girlfriend told police that he sometimes "gets handsy" with her, but the specifics of that statement were not clarified in the the police report. The victim also reportedly pleaded with the police to not make an arrest out of fear that it would hurt Watson's hockey career, and she became "extremely upset" when he was taken into custody. 

Watson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault last month. He can have that charge dismissed if he completes three months of probation, an in-patient treatment program and a batterer's intervention program.

Unlike the other major North American sports leagues, the NHL doesn't have a specific policy in regard to domestic violence. However, the NHL announced following his plea last month that they would launch an investigation into the incident to determine whether discipline is warranted.

"We have notified the [Predators] and the NHLPA that the league will be initiating a full investigation into the matter ... to determine the extent to which league discipline for Mr. Watson's off-ice conduct may be warranted and/or appropriate," the NHL said in a release.

The Predators have pledged full cooperation in that investigation. 

"Our priority right now is surrounding Austin, (his girlfriend) Jen and their family with the care and resources they need to heal and move forward," the Predators said in their statement.

Last year, the American-born forward was one of several Predators who participated in a campaign to end violence against women.

Watson, who was a first-round pick in 2010, recently signed a three-year, $3.3 million extension with the Predators prior to last season. He had a career-high 14 goals and 19 points in 2017-18. He also recorded eight points during the Predators' playoff run, which ended at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets in the second round.

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