(WIBW) - In a letter to the NFL released by ESPN in a report on Thursday, Tyreek Hill's lawyer denies child abuse claims made against the Chiefs wide receiver and accuses Hill's fiancée Crystal Espinal of harming their three-year-old son.
Attorney N. Trey Pettlon detailed the denial of multiple aspects of the phone call aired by KCTV5 that led to Hill's suspension from Chiefs team activities and the criminal investigation into these child abuse allegations being reopened. He denies Hill punching his son in the chest, having a role in breaking the child's arm, the boy being "terrified" of his father and also accuses Espinal of leaving marks on the child from spanking.
In the recording, Espinal accuses Hill of having a role in breaking their son's arm. She claims the boy said, "Daddy did it," and believes Hill either was too rough with the child or he fell.
"A three-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm," Espinal said in the recording.
Pettlon writes that he can't comment on other evidence, but that the child was medically examined and the incident was thoroughly investigated.
"I cannot comment on what was reported at that time, but he was examined and released without any indication that the accident that broke his arm was caused by Tyreek or contributed to by Tyreek, or that Tyreek was even somehow involved," Pettlon wrote. "And as has been reported, that investigation was closed with nothing about the injury to suggest it was anything but an accident. Again, Tyreek has repeatedly denied harming their son."
Elsewhere in that audio, Espinal accuses Hill of punching their son in the chest. She claims the boy says, "Daddy punches me," when he starts to cry.
"Which you do when he starts crying, what do you do," Espinal said. "You make him open up his arms and you punch him in the chest. And then if he gets in trouble, you get the belt out."
Pettlon claims in the letter this is the first time anyone as has accused Hill of punching his son. He adds that Hill "categorically denies" punching his son in the chest or anywhere else, touching him in a mean way to discipline him and pulling his son's arms aside to hit him.
"There have been occasions when Tyreek has tapped his son gently on the chest with his fingers, while his son was crying and said, 'man up, buddy' or 'don’t cry, my man,'" Pettlon said. "He has said that in a calm voice trying to redirect him. He’s never used his fist. He certainly doesn’t do it roughly.
"He is trying to calm his son down so he can stop crying. He is not hurting him or doing anything to make him cry more."
Pettlon then details how Hill and his son often "play fight" like they are Marvel superheroes, saying there is nothing rough about this and it often ends with laughter. He claims this is the only thing that could be close to described as "punching."
There is also a portion of the recording where Hill and Espinal argue about the usage of a belt as a form of discipline for the child. This comes after Espinal said she "rode for" Hill in this investigation and against people from Child Protective Services.
"I told them that he gets whooped," Espinal said in the recording. "I told them that he gets whooped, but I don't use a belt. Which is totally different."
"You do use a belt," Hill responded in the audio. "That's sad. Even my momma says you use a belt."
"When have I used a belt," Espinal replied. "When have you seen me use a belt with (---)? When have I used a belt?"
In the letter, Pettlon portrays Espinal as "the principal disciplinarian" for the boy and claims she admits to using a belt. The attorney also says both parents grew up in homes that employed corporal punishment and have spanked the child.
He also provides text messages sent from Espinal to Hill following the trip to Dubai where the audio was recorded that claim she caused marks to their son from spanking, not Hill.
“Crystal you know I didn’t cause any bruising or harm to [our son.]," Pettlon said Hill's text messages read. "But for some reason I still may be charged.”
“I know you didn’t," Pettlon said Espinal's text messages read. "I did. I hurt [our son.] I’m the one that did it. I was hurt and mad at you so I blamed you for everything.”
Pettlon adds the recording was made during a time when the two were looking into separating and also a custody dispute. In it, you also hear Espinal claim their son is "terrified of" Hill.
"He is terrified of you," Espinal said in the recording. "And you say he respects you, but it's not respect."
"He respects me," Hill responded in the audio.
"He is terrified of you," Espinal reiterated.
"You need to be terrified of me too, b----," Hill said. "That's why you can't keep a f------ man."
Pettlon writes this was the first time Hill had heard a claim of his son being terrified of him. He claims to have text messages that show Espinal contradicting it herself, like “[their child]’s eyes light up when he sees" Hill. In the letter, he says Espinal pressing him on their son being terrified "frustrated" Hill.
"It was in that moment that Tyreek made the unacceptable comment to Ms. Espinal," Pettlon wrote. "Instead of denying that his son was terrified of him a second time, something that bothered him a great deal, he became frustrated and said she should be terrified too. That comment is inexcusable, of course, and he wouldn’t ask me to defend that here."
He goes on to claim that comment doesn't line up with conversations between Hill and Espinal "over the past several months." According to Pettlon, a forensic examiner has looked into texts between the two before and during the investigation and a couple things were concluded.
"First, Tyreek never once refers to Ms. Espinal by a derogatory name, not 'b----' or anything else," Pettlon wrote. "Second, their conversations were friendly and respectful without exception even during arguments. Tyreek never says anything that is even remotely demeaning, controlling, rude or threatening in nature to Ms. Espinal."
Pettlon then goes on to say Espinal would verify not being terrified of Hill, even though he adds it doesn't excuse what the wide receiver said. He claims Hill regretted the "uncharacteristic" comments and is currently participating in family and individual counseling, where Pettlon claims "the preliminary reports have been positive."
"Both parents understand now that corporal punishment in any form is not an acceptable form of discipline and that studies have indicated conclusively it can be harmful to a child in multiple ways," Pettlon wrote. "Both are cooperating with DCF and very much love their son who, as has been reported, is in very good health."
Pettlon points out that Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe declined to charge Hill and Espinal after reviewing evidence. Howe cited a crime being committed, but explained his decision by saying he didn't know who committed it. The attorney acknowledges Howe's reviewal of the audio released by KCTV5 as well before defending his client.
"It should be clear by now that there is a lot of information, including other compelling evidence that points to Tyreek’s innocence, that is not a matter of public record and that cannot be addressed in this letter," Pettlon said. "All indications are that the criminal investigation is over, and Tyreek still maintains his innocence. Tyreek looks forward to having the opportunity to speak directly with you and to share all the relevant information that he can."
This letter release comes after police reports obtained from KCTV5 on Tuesday revealed Hill called for medical help for Espinal just days before authorities removed their 3-year old son from their Overland Park home.
Hill was staying in a hotel due to a no contact order with his son, and apparently watching a video feed from inside the home.
KCTV5 also obtained audio from Overland Park's dispatch which stated Hill saw Espinal passed out while she was watching their son on April 1.
It's not known why Espinal passed out.
Four days after Hill's 911 call, Espinal lost custody of the child and a police investigation began concerning allegations of child abuse and battery.