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Update: NASCAR issued a release at 6 PM Friday suspending Busch indefinitely. The sport cited Section 12.1.a (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12.8 (Behavioral Penalty) in their decision, one they said was based on the Family Court of the State of Delaware’s decision Monday. The Order of Protection from Abuse, issued against Busch pertains to ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.
“[Busch] will not be allowed to race nor participate in any NASCAR activities until further notice,” the sanctioning body said in a statement. “Kurt Busch and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are fully aware of our position and why this decision was made. We will continue to respect the process and timetable of the authorities involved.”
The details of the Kurt Busch – Patricia Driscoll case were released Friday afternoon, in which Kent County Commissioner David Jones concluded that an act of domestic violence occurred. Both NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing had no comment initially as they absorb the details of the decision, one that caused a protective order for Driscoll against Busch to be put in place. The driver has also been ordered to be evaluated for anger management issues.
“Abuse is established by a preponderance of the evidence when the evidence establishes that the abuse is more likely than not to have occurred,” Jones said in his decision. “In other words, if the Court finds that the probability that the Respondent committed an act of abuse on the occasion alleged in the Petition exceeds fifty percent, the Court is required by statute to enter an Order restraining Respondent from committing acts of domestic violence against the Petitioner and granting such other relief as the court finds necessary or appropriate.”
That means, for Jones to rule against Busch there needed to be at least a 50 percent chance, in his mind that domestic violence occurred. After a volume of information gathered on the matter, four days of grueling testimony, that’s what he concluded.
“The court is satisfied that the evidence presented at trial established that it is more likely than not that on September 26, 2014, Respondent committed an act of abuse against Petitioner by manually strangling Petitioner with his left hand on her throat, strike the interior wall of Respondent’s motor home, thereby recklessly causing physical injury to Petitioner and recklessly placing Petitioner in reasonable apprehension of physical injury,” he wrote. “The Court further finds that Respondent’s actions on that occasion constituted conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening or harmful.”
Much of the case has centered around both sides disputing testimony. Busch, who claimed Driscoll was a trained assassin, also claimed she was intentionally manipulating the case in an effort to bring down his racing career. Commissioner Jones believed in his decisions that both sides showed lapses in trust, noting Driscoll’s false claim Motor Racing Outreach pastor Nick Terry had been offered money by the Busch camp to secure his testimony. That belief ultimately turned out to be untrue. However, when faced with a choice between the former couple, Jones decided to side with Busch, pointing out physical photographs and text messages backing up the timeline of the domestic violence incident that have not yet been publicly reported.
“Despite concerns regarding Petitioner’s credibility raised by Respondent, the Court finds Petitioner’s version of the events of September 26, 2014, to be the more credible based upon her demeanor when required to recall and describe the alleged acts of abuse,” he said. “The absence of motive to falsify when she initially disclosed the alleged abuse moments after the events in a manner consistent with her trial testimony, the fact that her testimony regarding those events is corroborated by documentary evidence, including photographs of her injuries and text communications between the parties both before and after the incident and between herself and others after the incident, the fact that her testimony regarding those events is corroborated in important respects by the credible testimony of other witnesses and based upon the Court’s finding that her version of the events is believable given the totality of the other evidence admitted at trial. The Court finds Respondent’s version of the events of September 26, 2014, to be less credible than Petitioner’s version based upon the manner in which he initially testified regarding those events, his obvious interest in preserving his racing career, which could be endangered by a finding that he committed an act of domestic violence, the fact that his testimony conflicts with the documentary evidence that corroborates Petitioner’s version of the events, including photographs of Petitioner’s injuries.”
Jones also believed certain witnesses in the Busch camp were not creditable, weakening his case against Driscoll.
“In an effort to discredit Petitioner and to support their contention that the allgeations of abuse and her trial testimony are unworthy of belief, Respondent presented the opinion testimony of Charis Burrett [known Busch since 2008], who testified that based upon her knowledge of Petitioner’s reputation for truthfulness or untruthfulness, Petitioner’s testimony under oath should not be believed,” he wrote. “Likewise, Kristy Cloutier [Busch’s decade-long administrative assistant] testified that, in her opinion, Petitioner should not be believed. The Court finds the testimony of Mrs. Burrett and Ms. Cloutier regarding their opinions of Petitioner’s credibility to have been so dramatically tarnished by their obvious bias and personal financial interest in Respondent’s public image and racing career which, according to Respondent and his counsel, could be irreparably damaged if he were to be determined to have committed an act of domestic violence… their opinion testimony is unworthy of consideration by the Court in determining Petitioner’s credibility.”
The release follows Driscoll’s appearance on morning television this week, including ABC’s Good Morning America and FOX’s Fox and Friends. In her GMA interview with Michael Strahan, she alleged additional abuse from Busch in 2012, an incident she never reported to police.
Busch’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has asked to reopen the protective order but no ruling has been given. Busch has qualified 24th for Sunday’s Daytona 500 and must start the race to remain eligible for the NASCAR postseason under new rules announced this week.
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