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Cubs' Russell On Leave Amid Abuse Claims; Epstein Calls Allegations 'Very Disturbing'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Facing more detailed allegations of physical abuse from his ex-wife, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell has been placed on administrative leave while Major League Baseball investigates.

Russell was sidelined just hours before the Cubs took on the White Sox on Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field. Domestic violence allegations against him first came to light a year ago, when a friend of his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, accused him of abuse in an Instagram post.

In June of 2017, Reidy filed for divorce, two weeks after she accused Russell of infidelity. At the time, at least one friend of the couple accused Russell of abuse.

The league said it has been investigating ever since, but did not take any action against Russell until Friday, when xxx Reidy wrote a blog post providing new details of the allegations.

"Last year, this was a third-party accusation on social media, and now this is a direct accusation from the accuser," Cubs president Theo Epstein said.

In her blog post, Reidy said she struggled to "fake the convincing smile" in public while, behind closed doors, she was being abused.

"The first time I was physically mistreated by my spouse, I was in shock. I couldn't wrap my head around what just happened…Why did he get so angry? What did I do for him to want to put his hands on me?" Reidy wrote.

Reidy goes on to accuse Russell of "name calling, intimidating me with personal force, manipulating me...destroying my personal things."

Reidy does not describe the exact nature of the physical abuse. She said the emotional and verbal abuse "started way before I even realized, eventually it started to be an everyday thing,

She said Russell blamed her "for just about anything that went wrong, name calling, manipulating me to think I was the problem, destroying my personal things, threatening me to 'send' me and our son home to my parents as if I was privileged to be living in our home."

Reidy wrote that she suffered from depression and blamed herself. She also says her son witnessed some of the abusive behavior.

"All I thought about was what can I do to change myself if I'm the problem? What was wrong with me? I used to be everything he wanted, what changed?"

Russell has denied that he was ever abusive. "Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful," Russell said in a statement in June, 2017.

"The account was very disturbing. We take it very seriously," Epstein said.

Epstein said Major League Baseball's decision to place Russell on administrative leave was the right thing to do, and the Cubs are cooperating with the league's investigation.

"All parties have an obligation to get to a just and fair resolution; and if that includes discipline, if appropriate, then so be it," he said.

The league pointed out Reidy has so far declined to participate in its investigation.

"Major League Baseball takes all allegations of Domestic Violence seriously. When the allegations against Addison Russell became public on June 7, 2017, the Commissioner's Office's Department of Investigations immediately commenced an investigation. Melisa Russell declined to participate in the investigation at that time. Our investigation of this matter has remained open and we have continued our efforts to gather information," the league said in a statement on Friday. "With the new details revealed in today's blog post by Ms. Russell, Mr. Russell has been placed on Administrative Leave in accordance with the Joint MLB-MLBPA Domestic Violence Policy. We are hopeful that this new information will allow us to complete the investigation as promptly as possible."

Amanda Pyron, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Woman's Network, said there needs to be more training on domestic violence, "to understand why women come forward, why they recant, why they're nervous to talk to investigators, why sometimes they're hesitant to participate -- and it's out of fear."

"It's important that this victim see that MLB is taking action, the Chicago Cubs are taking action, and that she does have a community of support," she said.

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