This story has been modified from its original version
Marcus Ezeff, who joined the Healdsburg High School faculty last month as head of the football program, was arrested Thursday, March 29, for allegedly backing his car into his girlfriend, knocking her down. On Monday, the Sonoma County District Attorney declined to file charges against Ezeff. “We will not be pursuing criminal charges,” said Joseph Langenbahn of the DA’s office.
According to Healdsburg Police Sergeant Nick Castaneda, the alleged victim, whose name is being withheld, called police about 4:39 Thursday afternoon to report that she had been assaulted.
“A woman called to say that Mr. Ezeff had backed his car into her and knocked her down,” Castaneda said, who added that the woman told police she and Ezeff had been arguing, that he got into his car to leave and then backed into her.
Castaneda said Healdsburg Police Officer Morgan Dudley interviewed the alleged victim and based on her statement and visual evidence of bruising, she contacted Rohnert Park Police, who detained Ezeff near where the couple lives in Rohnert Park.
“Officer Dudley questioned him in Rohnert Park and then arrested him for felony domestic violence and assault,” said Castaneda, who said that Ezeff posted bail later that evening.
The next day, the woman called Healdsburg Police to take it back. “She said she wanted to recant her statement,” said Castaneda.
Ezeff called the Tribune Monday morning. “My girlfriend lied,” he said. “That’s not me, that’s not my character … I never did anything wrong.”
Castaneda said the incident occurred at the high school near the school district offices. Given the time of day, most students and staff were gone from campus. Castaneda said there were witnesses who were interviewed who heard an argument but did not witness an incident.
Healdsburg Unified School District Superintendent Chris Vanden Heuvel was out of town last week. Reached on his mobile phone, he said, “I can’t say much as it’s a personnel related issue, but I can say the coach has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. We are still looking into what occurred and after that we will make a determination on his status.”
On Monday, after learning that no charges are being brought against Ezeff, Vanden Heuvel said he will still look into the matter to determine if any action will be taken by the district.
“We hold all of our employees to an extremely high expectation in terms of role modeling to our students and when that expectation isn’t met we take that very seriously,” Vanden Heuvel said. “Every employee gets extensive background checks through the Department of Justice and any arrests that occur during employment are reported immediately to the district and we make a determination from there. Our employee handbook talks about conduct and we have a coaches’ handbook in addition to that. It discusses how they are to conduct themselves and what action we take when there is an issue around that.”
Ezeff has a long history of athletic achievement. A 2004 graduate of Montgomery High School, he played three years for the UC California Golden Bears and then played professionally for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League and Hamilton Tiger Cats in the Canadian Football League. An undrafted free agent, he also had a tryout with the New York Jets.
When Ezeff was hired two months ago, HHS principal Lori Rhodes issued a press release praising him, stating in part: “We confidently expect that Mr. Ezeff will instill resilience and character in his student-athletes, building on the storied athletic tradition at our school.”
Castaneda said Ezeff was originally charged with domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon, both felonies based on the use of a vehicle. As of Monday, there are no charges and Ezeff has nothing pending against him in this case, said Langenbahn.