Thursday, May 6, 2010

Enough is enough: Stop demonizing Ben Roethlisberger, the likely victim of a false rape claim

Now Sports Illustrated has jumped on the "Roethlisberger-is-morally-repugnant" bandwagon to sell a few magazines.

Don't get me wrong, I say "kudos to SI!" for good old-fashioned capitalist ingenuity. It must be damn tough in the cyber age to sell magazines made of actual paper, ink, and staples, and the SI gang has picked perhaps the most sensational sports story in the past year, this side of Tiger Woods, to slap on their cover.

But enough is enough.  The media's gang bang to vilify Roethlisberger has reached the hysterical boiling point.

The fourth estate almost universally blinks at the single most important fact concerning the events surrounding Roethlisberger's March 4, 2010 visit to the Capitol City nightclub in Milledgeville, Georgia: Roethlisberger was likely the victim of a false rape claim. 

We've previously explained on this site that the accusing co-ed's explanation about what occurred can aptly be described as a moving target. She lacks credibility because her three statements to police within several hours of the "incident" suggest the evolving narrative of a woman groping for victimhood.  Consider: (1) The accuser's "No" in response to a question about whether she was raped, and her "I'm not sure" if she and Roethlisberger even had sex, were later transformed into (2) the accuser claiming she told Ben "I don't know if this is a good idea" before they had sex, which was later transformed into (3) the accuser claiming she told Ben "no, this is not OK" before they had sex that she didn't want to have. 

That is the sort of material criminal defense attorneys usually only dream about.  The local district attorney, Fredric D. Bright, decided not to press charges against Mr. Roethlisberger because, he said, the duty of a district attorney is to seek justice.  More specifically, Mr. Bright knew he couldn't win.

Does it matter even a little to the the folks who write for America's major dailies that Mr. Roethlisberger was likely the victim of our nation's silent epidemic, a false rape claim?  

Take Ann Belser of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for example.  Read what she wrote, and tell me if you think it matters to Ms. Belser in the slightest that Mr. Roethlisberger was likely falsely accused of rape:

"Even if you cast Ben's actions in the most favorable light, they appall. At the very least, he took advantage of a drunk college student who was significantly smaller and younger than him, a young woman who made horrible choices on a bad night."

Excuse me, Ms. Belser.  If you cast Mr. Roethlisberger's actions in the most favorable light, he was the victim here -- of a false rape claim -- and that should appall everyone. 

If you cast Mr. Roethlisberger's actions in the most favorable light, a 20-year-old woman did not just make "horrible choices on a bad night."  A guy who runs out of gas two miles from the nearest Sunoco station after deciding not to fill up when he had the chance made a "horrible choice on a bad night." To say the same thing about Mr. Roethlisberger's accuser trivializes her attempt to destroy another human being by using the full apparatus of law enforcement to deprive him of his liberty for many years for a crime he never committed.

Or does that matter to you, even a little, Ms. Belser?

Sadly, Ms. Belser's opinion is typical of the cackling features and sports writers who've deigned to "shed light" on the story for us, the great unwashed.

One person who "gets it" -- about Ben, and about all presumptively innocent men saddled with a rape claim that ends up being dismissed because it's probably not true -- is Western Pennsylvania sports bon vivant Mark Madden.  He writes:

"The minute Roethlisberger is exonerated, he becomes the victim. Mistakenly accused. Tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Unfairly maligned by the media. Subject to speculated punishment ranging from jail to suspension to unemployment. Those things don’t go away, can’t be unsaid, now that it turns out Roethlisberger didn’t do anything.

"Roethlisberger’s detractors won’t agree. 'Didn’t do anything?' they will fairly roar. 'He obviously did something!'

"No, he didn’t. Roethlisberger really is a victim, proof anyone can accuse anyone of practically anything and have it taken seriously. There was never a legitimate case against Roethlisberger. Not a shred.

"So, get over it. Ask nice, and maybe Roethlisberger will sign your autograph next time. Roethlisberger will have a big season. Bet on it. The great ones block out trouble, focus and perform."