By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - The head coach of the Orlando Predators arena football team was due to appear in court on Monday on a charge of domestic battery after his girlfriend told an emergency dispatcher that he tried to strangle her, according to the arrest affidavit.
Robert Keefe, 34, was arrested Sunday afternoon, making the Predators, members of the indoor Arena Football League, the latest professional sports team to face domestic violence issues.
Predators President Jared Saft said Keefe's girlfriend had contacted the team to report the dispute.
"She has assured us this was an isolated incident. However, we are still investigating the facts. As an organization, we take domestic violence matters very seriously and are working to ensure this issue is fully and appropriately resolved," Saft said in an emailed statement.
An Orange County deputy wrote in the affidavit that he found the girlfriend in her car crying, her neck and chin were red.
The woman told the deputy that Keefe grabbed her by the neck, pushed her up against the apartment door, then lifted her off her feet by the rib cage. Keefe would not let her leave until she started screaming, according to the affidavit.
Keefe, who was hired by the Predators in December 2013, and the woman have been a couple for three years and have been living together for 17 months, according to the affidavit.
Keefe initially denied to the deputy that he touched her, but later “apologized for his behavior several times," according to the affidavit. After the girlfriend realized Keefe would be arrested, she refused to cooperate further, the officer reported.
In his first season with the Predators, Keefe lead the team to an 11-7 record. Before arriving in Orlando, Keefe was part of the coaching staff for the Spokane Shock, the Philadelphia Soul and the Utah Blaze, according to the Predator website.
(Editing by David Adams, Doina Chiacu)