Photo via Flickr User stab at sleep
There is no question that rape destroys lives.
But to be clear, I’m not talking about the hundreds of thousands of sexual assault victims per year, struggling to deal with the subsequent impact and attention, nor am I talking about the men who’ve lost everything—their careers, families, and friends—over unfounded rape accusations. This is not about the unwanted, violently conceived children, shattered families, horrified significant others, or even our overburdened legal system, because when it comes to rape, there’s an oft-forgetten group of victims: sports fans.
Local athletics are a big deal; they provide a sinkhole for taxpayer dollars, promote gender segregation, and remind kids that an affordable education is not for those who can’t dunk or tackle. So let’s maybe ease up on accusing athletes, at least until they’ve finished out the season. The local sports-worship community depends on it. Have you ever cherished something so deeply, and in one fell swoop had it ripped away and tarnished forever? Well, now you know how fans of disgraced athletes like Darrell Williams, Troy Turner, Trent Mays, and Ma'Lik Richmond feel. One moment, at the top of their game, thanks to a mix of aggression, power dynamics, and maybe a little force, and the next moment they’re batting away curveballs such as DNA and video evidence. Don’t these guys already have enough on their plate without having to deal with “answering to the allegations?"
Accused rapist Jameis "Jay-Boo" Winston. Photo via Flickr User flguardian2
At least Florida is keeping it real, as usual. Florida State’s quarterback, Jameis “Jay-Boo” Winston, was accused of rape by a female FSU student all the way back in January, although due to the Tallahassee Police Department's incredible consideration, no inquiries, arrests, or even DNA samples were made at the time. This is because, as the detectives put it, “such activity would alert Winston and the matter would go public.” If there’s one thing more important than police competence, or the thorough investigation of an alleged felony, it’s college football. In fact, according to a statement released by the family of the victim, “When the attorney contacted Detective Angulo immediately after Winston was identified, Detective Angulo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable."
More potentially incriminating details have been revealed, such as Jameis’ DNA on the victim’s clothing. Through it all the community has held together in a breathtaking display of strength, pride, and camaraderie by showering Winston with unconditional displays of support. A recent game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Idaho Vandals began with a deafening ovation at the introduction of Jameis Winston to the field, where he helped his team score a record breaking 80 points, and according to Yahoo! Sports, a pair of fans, one in a “black peekaboo top that showed plenty of cleavage” held out customized jerseys for Jameis to sign, with “Jay-Boo” on one, and “Innocent” on the other. "We've looked at everything that's been released," the woman told the reporter. "We're confident he's innocent." Everyone in Florida is a cast member of Law & Order: SVU or something, since they've already solved the mystery. Of course, the fans at Penn State and Steubenville thought they knew the truth too.
Photo via Flickr User flguardian2
The case is being investigated by Tallahassee State Attorney Willie Meggs, who will either charge Jameis before the holiday and prevent him from playing in the Gators game on Saturday, or note Thanksgiving's looming presence and postpone the case. The DNA evidence and eyewitness testimony might clear Jay Boo of all charges, if you ask his lawyers. What doesn't make sense is why they decided to wait until after the results came in to inform investigators and the press that it was not at all surprising that his DNA was found, and in fact they were “anticipating” it being discovered. Their omission-based semantic argument of, “we never, ever said he wasn't there" was met by the family of the victim releasing a second statement simply stating, “To be clear, the victim did not consent. This was a rape."
Considering the outcomes from Boston University, Notre Dame, University of Iowa, University of Missouri, Oakland University, and a whole bunch of other rape allegations against college athletes, it's unlikely that Winston will face jail time. Research suggests that athletes who have been accused of sexual assault are rarely convicted. Winston's guilt or innocence remains in question, but his ability to remain a hero in Tallahassee is not.