Panthers’ Hardy, appealing domestic violence conviction, takes voluntary leave

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(CNN) — Carolina Panthers star defensive end Greg Hardy, who has been granted a new trial this fall after a domestic violence conviction in July, has taken a voluntary leave with pay until his legal matters are resolved, the team announced Wednesday.

“This was his decision,” Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman told reporters.

Authorities say Hardy in May choked his then-girlfriend, threw her around, dragged her by her hair and threatened to kill her. He was sentenced in July to 18 months of probation and a 60-day suspended sentence for the misdemeanors with which he was charged.

The 6-foot-4, 275 pound defensive end says he is innocent and has appealed a guilty verdict rendered by a Mecklenburg County judge in North Carolina. He was granted a jury trial that is scheduled for mid-November.

Gettleman said that Hardy will be placed on the NFL’s exempt/commissioner’s permission list, which allows in special circumstances for players to be paid while on leave.

The players’ union said it worked with the league, the Carolina Panthers and Hardy on the matter.

“We support this decision and hope the best for him and his family,” the National Football League Players Association said in a written statement.

Hardy, who led the team last season with 15 sacks and was a Pro Bowl selection, missed Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions after the team placed on the inactive list. He played in the season opener against Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had four tackles.

CNN’s Drew Iden contributed to this report.

By Steve Almasy