Devil Ray charged with violating terms of order

Updated: August 3, 2007, 6:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Elijah Dukes faces the prospect of jail time after being charged Thursday with a single count of violating a domestic violence injunction.

Dukes, optioned to the minor leagues in June by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and placed on the temporary inactive list as he tries to get a handle on his numerous legal problems, faces a maximum punishment of a year in jail if convicted on the misdemeanor.

His estranged wife, NiShea Dukes, obtained a year-long restraining order in June after she said Elijah threatened her. According to a report in the Tampa Tribune on Friday, NiShea Dukes called the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to complain that he and an unidentified woman made harassing phone calls to her.

Assistant State Attorney Douglas Covington told the Tribune that Elijah Dukes will be issued a subpoena and a court date. Dukes is unlikely to be formally arrested or booked.

Ronald Hanes, Dukes' criminal attorney, did not return the newspaper's call requesting for comment.

The Dukes' are in the process of a messy divorce case that stems from an incident in which NiShea Dukes said her husband threatened her over the phone and text-messaged her a picture of a handgun.

Dukes was suspended for the final month of last season at Triple-A Durham because of a string of on- and off-the-field incidents. He was arrested in January and charged with marijuana possession, but won a spot on the Devil Rays' roster out of spring training and was the club's Opening Day center fielder, homering in his first major league game.

His playing time began to decrease in late May, when NiShea Dukes revealed she sought court protection for herself and the couple's children. In June, published reports detailed a pregnant 18-year-old girl's claim that Dukes is the father of her unborn child.

Dukes, who earns $380,000, will be paid by the Devil Rays while he's on the inactive list. One consideration in the decision to continue paying his major league salary is the player has several young children.

Earlier this summer, Devil Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg defended his decision to deactivate Dukes rather than release him.

"This will pass, hopefully, with a very positive outcome for him," the owner said at the time. "If it doesn't, our reputation will remain intact as an organization that's trying to help somebody or did what they think they could to help somebody."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.