The Delaware Department of Justice announced today that no domestic assault charges will be filed against former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, saying insufficient evidence exists to prove Busch assaulted former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll at Dover International Speedway last September.
“The admissible evidence and available witnesses would likely be insufficient to meet the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Busch committed a crime during the September 26th incident,” said a written statement from the department today. That “reasonable doubt” threshold is markedly different from the “more likely than not” standard used by a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner in issuing a no-contact order against Busch late last month.
With one legal decision now handed down in favor of each side, both Busch and Driscoll are now free to claim victory, announce their personal vindication and move on with their respective lives. The rest of us are free to put this tawdry chapter of NASCAR history behind us once and for all, turning our attention to happier stories from the race track and garage.
Busch must still remain at least 100 yards from Driscoll for the next 12 months, something he is almost certainly willing – and even happy – to do. With a new female companion on his arm of late, the Stewart Haas Racing driver appears ready, willing and able to move on, both personally and professionally. He and Driscoll will legally be allowed to share the same social circle at NASCAR races and other events, if necessary. Busch will still be required to undergo evaluation for mental health problems related to anger and impulse control, and cannot buy or possess firearms or ammunition for the next year.
|Long ago and far away...|
Today’s decision clears the way for Busch to continue his road back to full-time NASCAR competition, free from the looming threat of criminal prosecution. It does not, however, answer lingering questions about NASCAR’s handling of the Busch/Driscoll case, or the sport’s official stance regarding domestic violence.
NASCAR must still explain why it chose to suspend Busch indefinitely, after taking no action in a similar case involving former Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil in October of 2013. It must clearly outline how it will handle cases of domestic abuse in the future, and publish clear guidelines regarding what does (and does not) constitute actionable personal behavior in the future. While those decisions can now be made without the tumult and public scrutiny generated by the Busch/Driscoll case, they are no less important today that they were a month ago, and deserve to be addressed.
While both sides will likely claim victory, there are no winners in today's decision. Both Busch and Driscoll have had their personal reputations besmirched and their professional standing damaged. The court of public opinion is bound by neither law nor common sense, and the internet trolls will not easily be dissuaded from their harsh and hurtful opinions.
NASCAR has also taken a public relations hit, finding itself front-and-center in a dispute that generated more accusation than fact, more vitriol than substance.
Thank God it's over.