Seahawks are comfortable with Frank Clark despite domestic violence issue

RENTON, Wash. -- Before the 2012 NFL draft, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider took a hard-line stance against domestic violence.

“We would never take a player that struck a female or had a domestic violence dispute like that,’’ he said.

Michigan defensive end Frank Clark was the team’s top pick in the second round Friday. Clark was charged with assault for allegedly striking his girlfriend and throwing her to the floor.

So Schneider was asked again Friday night if it’s still the team’s policy not to draft a player who struck a female.

“Yeah, it still is,” Schneider said. “I can’t get into all the specifics of Frank’s case, but that is still a deal-breaker for us and will continue to be.”

So does that means Schneider feels Clark never struck his girlfriend?

“Yep,” Schneider said.

He said they have done their due diligence on Clark.

“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank’s situation and background,” Schneider said. “We have done a ton of research on this young man. There hasn’t been one player in this draft that we spent more time analyzing and scrutinizing than Frank.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said they understand the sensitivity of the domestic violence problem in the NFL and the concerns people have about players involved.

“Of course we’re concerned,’’ Carroll said. “We’re very sensitive to that. That’s why we had to do such a thorough job so we could clearly come to the right decision. We would not have done this, realizing there is going to be the questions and the scrutiny, if we didn’t know it was the right thing.”

At the time of Clark's arrest in November, his girlfriend, Diamond Hurt, and other witnesses told police that Clark had struck her in the face. Hurt suffered visible injuries -- a welt on the cheek, bruises on her neck and a scuff burn on her right hip.

Clark denied striking Hurt at the time of his arrest and entered an original plea of not guilty to the domestic violence charge, which was later reduced to disorderly conduct.

By coincidence, Schneider had scheduled a scouting trip to Michigan right after the incident occurred.

“I was actually there the Monday after all this went down,” Schneider said. “The people at the school were completely shocked that this happened. Over time, things became clearer and clearer throughout the evaluation process.

“I can’t even get into all of it. Based on the people who have been with him at the school, we have a plan in place for him. He’s committed to it. It’s been several months of talking to people that all the stories hold up.”

Schneider also said he knows some people will be stunned when they read the police report.

“I understand that,’’ he said. “I have four older sisters. But I would say there’s always two sides to a story. You can’t just go with one police report. You have to talk to everyone that’s involved. Everybody.”

Schneider, however, said no one in the Seahawks organization spoke to the victim.

And there are other issues in Clark’s past. When he was a freshman, he stole a laptop out of a dorm room and was charged with felony theft. Clark was in counseling before the domestic violence charge occurred.

“We are going to hold him to a very high standard and we think he’s going to be very successful,” Carroll said. “It was crucial that we did all of the work that we did, all of the meetings and all of the interviews to get to the point that we understood the situation. He’s very committed to doing right. He really wants to demonstrate that he’s on the right track.”

Clark said he just wants the Seahawks fans to give him a chance.

“I don’t believe in judging a book by its cover,” Clark said. “Just have faith in me. Give me a couple years and believe in me and I promise you won’t be upset.”