The parent company of Major League Soccer side Portland Timbers has been added as a co-defendant in the domestic violence lawsuit filed by Genessis Alarcon against former Timbers midfielder Andy Polo.
In the refiled complaint, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, Alarcon, the estranged wife of Polo, is seeking upward of $600,000 in damages from Polo and another $600,000 from Peregrine Sports LLC, and by extension the Timbers. Peregrine Sports LLC is listed in the court filing as doing business as the Portland Timbers, and it is the Timbers that are referred to throughout the filing.
According to the court filing obtained by ESPN, the suit alleges, "On or around May 23, 2021 at Mr. Polo's residence in Oregon with his children present, Mr. Polo attempted to and did in fact cause harmful physical contact with Ms. Alarcon, including by violently grabbing her by the arm, pulling her by the hair against her will, and pushing her to the floor, causing her pain and discomfort."
The filing goes on to make claims of assault, battery and negligence against Polo, and seeks "fair compensation for noneconomic damages in an amount determined by the jury to be reasonable, and taxable costs."
It adds, "The total amount allowed by the jury against Mr. Polo cannot exceed $600,000 total, or $200,000 for each family member affected."
In an interview with ESPN earlier this month, Alarcon said that two weeks after the alleged domestic violence occurred on May 23, 2021, she met with two Timbers representatives who tried to pressure her into not pressing criminal charges. Neither Alarcon nor the Washington County District Attorney decided to proceed with a criminal case against Polo.
MLS is currently conducting an investigation of the Timbers' handling of the alleged domestic violence involving Polo. The Timbers didn't report it to MLS, as is customary in such situations.
Regarding the refiled lawsuit, the club told ESPN via text message: "The Timbers decline further comment until Major League Soccer's review is complete." The club has also denied that Alarcon was pressured.
The Timbers opted to pick up Polo's contract option last December, six months after the alleged domestic violence incident. On Feb. 10, after Alarcon publicly shared allegations from the incident in May and another incident, the Timbers said Polo's contract was terminated, although earlier this week Polo's new club stated that he had been bought out of his Timbers contract by MLS. The league owns the contracts on all players.
A statement from MLS indicated that the MLS Players Association had filed a grievance on Polo's behalf and that: "The league determined that settling the grievance and focusing on the league's investigation was appropriate." The MLSPA declined to comment.
An executive for Peruvian club Universitario Deportes, the club where Polo began his career and signed this week, said that Polo had 15 days to "resolve his problems" or the contract would be void. Polo has consistently denied Alarcon's allegations.
As for Peregrine Sports LLC and the Timbers, the filing alleges one count of negligence by the Timbers. It states that on the evening in question, two representatives of the Timbers arrived at the residence shared by Polo, Alarcon and their children. According to the filing, the Portland Timbers "created a special relationship with Ms. Alarcon when it interjected itself into Ms. Alarcon's and Mr. Polo's domestic affairs and promised Ms. Alarcon and law enforcement that it would ensure that Ms. Alarcon would no longer be subject to any further physical and mental abuse at the hands of Mr. Polo."
The filing adds, "The Portland Timbers breached its duty and its standard of care by failing to take any reasonable actions to prevent or stop Mr. Polo's continued abuse of Ms. Alarcon and the breach of this duty foreseeably resulted, and was substantial factor, in Ms. Alarcon suffering significant and ongoing harm and emotional distress as a result of Mr. Polo's further abusive conduct."
The filing goes on to note that the cap of $600,000 in damages doesn't include any additional punitive damages the jury might decide to allow against the Timbers, 70% of which would be payable to the state of Oregon.
Alarcon's attorney, Michael Fuller, refiled the lawsuit in Oregon State Court for Multnomah County after initially filing it in U.S. District Court for Oregon earlier this month. He explained via email that because Polo was no longer residing in Oregon, the state court was the more appropriate venue. He also noted that the jury pool is more diverse in state court.
According to an incident report obtained by ESPN from the Washington County Sheriff's Department, on May 23, 2021, Polo was "issued a citation in lieu of arrest for harassment after grabbing onto [Alarcon's] wrist." The citation is classified as a B misdemeanor.
In the report, Alarcon indicated that she and Polo had been separated for the past three years but lived under the same roof. On the date in question, a friend of Alarcon's called police stating that her friend's husband was hitting her. Two deputies arrived and separately began interviewing Polo and Alarcon. When the police arrived, the report says that Alarcon "seemed to be frantic, scared and stressed" and that the children looked frightened.
The report adds, "[Alarcon] said Andy and she had been arguing for the past two days. She told me today she was home in the kitchen cleaning when Andy came home. She said Andy wanted to take her cellphone back because he wanted to take back everything he has ever given her. She told him she did not have it. She said during the argument Andy reached out and grabbed her right wrist and scratched it. She showed me the underside of her right wrist and I saw what appeared to be a light red abrasion."
The report states that Alarcon took their two children upstairs and the three locked themselves in a room. Polo had recently been injured in a game against the LA Galaxy and was on crutches, making it easier for her to get away. She also made an audio recording of what took place and played it for the police. Polo denied arguing with or even grabbing or touching Alarcon.
The report goes on to detail that two Timbers employees, Gabriel Jaimes, who is the players affairs and professional development manager, and the team's head of security, Jim McCausland, later arrived at the residence.
The report reads that "[McCausland] told me he would make sure that peace would be maintained inside the house. He said if he needed to move Andy or [Alarcon] out of the home to maintain safety and security, he would take care of it. He assured me no further incidents would take place."
Gomez: Timbers handling of Polo situation is worrying and troublesome
Herc Gomez is critical of the Portland Timbers' handling of Andy Polo after he was accused of domestic abuse.
The domestic violence allegations against Polo and the subsequent investigation follow another instance of abuse within the same organization with National Women's Soccer League side Portland Thorns. In September, two former Thorns players publicly accused former coach Paul Riley of coercing a player into having sex with him and sending lewd photos to another, along with verbal abuse, anti-gay comments and other inappropriate behavior.
One of the players had reported Riley's behavior to the Timbers' front office in 2015. Riley quietly left the club and was quickly rehired by another team in the NWSL, prompting backlash and protests from fans who say the club should've done more to protect players.
The Timbers vowed an independent investigation of their handling of the player's complaint but closed it without interviewing any players so other investigations could take precedence. An investigation commissioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation is being led by Sally Yates, a former acting U.S. attorney general, while the NWSL Players Association is leading another with the league. Both are ongoing.