August 6, 1997 was just another ho-hum night for the Mets. After six consecutive losing seasons, manager Bobby Valentine had his squad 15 games over .500 before a 4-0 loss to the Rockies that evening at Shea Stadium. The next day, however, turned out to be a disturbing reminder of real life colliding with professional sports, as Mets outfielder Carl Everett became entangled in allegations of child abuse.
The recent disturbing reports of child abuse allegations against the Vikings' Adrian Peterson are chillingly reminiscent of Everett's situation seventeen years ago when a child-care worker at Shea Stadium noticed bruises on Everett's five-year-old daughter Shawna who, along with her four-year-old brother Carl, was being taken care of at the ballpark. After the police were called, the Administration for Children's Services took the situation seriously enough to remove the kids from the Everetts' custody.
Police officials ultimately closed the case after interviewing Everett and his wife Linda, but the Queens District Attorney's office was not so quick to end the matter. Ultimately, a family court judge ruled that the children would be placed in foster care at least until a hearing in late October 1997. That same judge eventually found enough evidence to suggest child neglect on the part of the Everetts. In addition, he stated that Linda Everett "inflicted excessive corporal punishment" on both kids and that her husband knew about it but failed to take any actions to stop it. The more serious charge of child abuse was dismissed.
Although an original agreement that would reunite the Everetts with their children fell through, the couple came to a settlement on the first day of the trial. As the New York Times reported in its October 22, 1997 edition:
The parents could be reunited with their children within a year if they undergo therapy, attend parenting classes and visit their children twice a week in foster care under supervision. Lawyers representing the Everetts predicted that the family could be reunited as soon as three months from now.
The Everetts never admitted to abuse or neglect, alleging the bruises on their daughter were a result of a "fall from the bed" or from her brother, claims pointedly disputed by the lawyer representing Administration for Children's Services.
On the field, Everett played in a then-career-high 142 games for the Mets in 1997, his last year in New York. Outside of missing a handful of games to take care of the issues surrounding the child-abuse allegations, Everett was never suspended or placed on the restricted list by the Mets. He was ultimately traded to the Astros for John Hudek later in the year.
Though one doesn't necessarily have to do with the other, Everett's brush with the law in 1997 would not be his last. Although his 14-year-career ended after he spent the 2006 season with the Mariners, Everett would find himself back in the news five years later when he was arrested twice in 2011 for aggravated assault. Both instances involved his wife Linda, including one in which he allegedly held a gun to her head.