The findings of Major League Soccer’s investigation into how the Portland Timbers handled the May 23, 202 incident of alleged domestic violence between Andy Polo and his estranged partner Genessis Alarcón have been released. The Timbers will be fined $25,000 for failing to properly report the incident, and according to the conclusions of the investigation, the failure to report was due to a lack of knowledge of league rules, and not an intentional cover-up.
The league’s investigation also concluded that the Timbers did not offer financial inducements to pressure Alarcón to not pursue criminal charges against Polo.
In a statement, the league said, “The investigators concluded that the Timbers’ offer to assist Genessis Alarcon, Mr. Polo’s former domestic partner, and her children was not intended to induce, and did not induce, Ms. Alarcon to refrain from pursuing criminal charges against Mr. Polo. The report also concluded that while the Timbers should have reported the May 23, 2021 incident to MLS, there was no evidence that the Timbers attempted to hide or conceal the incident.”
The league also published the entirety of its findings, which you can read here.
The investigation concluded that Portland should have reported the May 23 incident to the league, but their failure to do so was the result of a lack of understanding of the MLS Constitution. According to the published conclusion, Gavin Wilkinson, the Portland Timbers’ General Manager and President of Soccer, reached out to the club’s in-house legal counsel to inquire if the club was required to report the incident.
According to the findings, “Mr. Wilkinson and the Club’s in-house counsel credibly reported that they did not know that they had a duty to report the incident under the MLS Constitution. The investigators found that the failure to report the incident to the League was the result of a lack of an understanding of the MLS Constitution, rather than an intent to conceal it.”
In the matter of Alarcón’s claim that the Timbers allegedly attempted to dissuade her from pursuing charges against Polo, the investigation concluded that “the Timbers did not intend to induce, and did not induce, Ms. Alarcon to refrain from pursuing criminal charges against Mr. Polo.”
The investigation explains, “More specifically, the investigators found that: (i) the Timbers’ provision of assistance to Ms. Alarcon after the May 23, 2021 incident was not intended to dissuade her from pursuing charges against Mr. Polo, and Ms. Alarcon understood she would receive assistance from the Club regardless of whether she pursued the charges against Mr. Polo; (ii) no one from the Timbers conditioned assistance to her on her agreement to forgo pursuing criminal charges, or attempted to dissuade Ms. Alarcon from doing so; and (iii) the decision to pursue charges was entirely up to Ms. Alarcon and she did not want to pursue a criminal case against Mr. Polo.”
In the wake of the publishing of the findings of the investigation, the Timbers released a statement, in which they “acknowledge and accept the findings of the independent review Major League Soccer commissioned into the handling of the Andy Polo incident of May 2021.”
The statement from the Timbers also claimed that the club has been working over the past few months to “enact a set of programs designed to improve our accountability, equity and engagement.” The full set of action items will reportedly be released in the coming days.
“We strive to be a club this city and our supporters can be proud of. We have more than a decade of outstanding work in the community and off the pitch of which we are extremely proud,” the Timbers statement continues. “However, we are not perfect and will make mistakes occasionally. When that happens, corrections will be made, and we will learn from them.”
You can read the full statement from the team here.
While Polo is not facing any criminal charges for the incident, he along with Peregrine Sports LLC, the parent company of the Portland Timbers, have been named in co-defendants in a domestic violence civil suit brought by Genessis Alarcón. Polo is facing claims of assault, battery, and negligence, and Peregrine Sports and the Timbers are facing a claim of negligence from Alarcón.
The investigation was triggered when the Timbers cut ties with Andy Polo back in February when details of alleged domestic violence incidents were publicly revealed by Genessis Alarcón. The Timbers had made the decision in December 2021 during the offseason to exercise Polo’s contract option for the 2022 season. While his contract was originally reported as being “terminated”, it was later revealed that the league paid out the final year of Polo’s contract in full.
The league’s investigation was conducted by Proskauer Rose LLP. ESPN’s Sebastian Salazar has an informative thread on Twitter explaining the history of the relationship between the league and Proskauer, which you can read below:
Don’t just scream at the headline! Read the article, as always - great reporting from Jeff.— Sebastian Salazar (@SebiSalazarFUT) March 30, 2022
Below a few notes of my own on Proskauer Rose, the ‘independent’ law firm that handled the ‘investigation’. #MLS #rctid https://t.co/Jrs8BjKCTj
Jeffrey Carlisle of ESPN, who has had excellent reporting on this whole matter from the start, also has a full article detailing the league’s conclusions. The Oregonian’s Ryan Clarke has also broken many developments on the matter, and The O published an article from him outlining the league’s results as well.
If you or somebody you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can access resources at the Oregon DHS website: www.oregon.gov/dhs/abuse/domestic/pages/index.aspx, or the National Domestic Hotline website: www.thehotline.org.
If you need immediate assistance, you can call 9-1-1; or, for shelter services, the Call to Safety Crisis Line at 1-888-235-5333.