The Elephant In The Room

Okay, here’s the thing. We all know that a University of Washington Men’s Basketball player is being investigated for rape. If you don’t know by now, you’ve been living on Mars. In fact, I bet most of you probably know the name of the player who’s being investigated. You can talk about it amongst yourselves, but no reputable media operation can so much as whisper it in print.

In the world of journalism, there are some things that just don’t slip. Real journalism, in fact, might be the last honest profession on earth. Because journalists keep secrets and protect information like Swiss banks. Think of all those sources and all those names as one big vagina. And think of your friendly neighborhood journalist as the chastity belt surrounding that vagina, to which there is no key. That sh*t’s on lock. And it’s not getting out.

You know, though. You know, I know, we all know. We all know the guy who’s being investigated and we can’t discuss it. Because he hasn’t been charged with anything yet. And he may never be charged. Right now, this is all alleged activity. Alleged. Don’t you just love that word? It’s the ultimate asterisk.

“No, no, no, no…you didn’t catch me looking at porn. You allegedly caught me looking at porn. That would never hold up in a court of law.”

We know that (allegedly) this particular basketball player (allegedly) had some sexual interaction with a 16-year-old girl who he (allegedly) met via Facebook and (allegedly) invited over to his place of residence. After the (alleged) sexual interaction went down, the (alleged) victim came to the conclusion that what had (allegedly) occurred was not right and then involved the police and the media in the matter. This is what we know. Allegedly.

Talking about this sort of thing is considered taboo. But we need to talk about it. Because if we don’t talk about it, then someone else controls the story (like your rival’s student section, for example).

Fact is, what occurred on this night is being presented to us as illegal activity, regardless of what your opinions on the matter may be. Clearly, the elder party is in the wrong. It’s cut and dry. The law says it’s wrong, so it’s wrong. Simple as that.

This isn’t a one-way street, however. While the law may indict one person and protect the other, both parties are to blame in some respect for what occurred. Let’s review the (alleged) relationship for a minute.

Did the girl know what she was doing? I would imagine that yes, she did.

Was she forced to go to this athlete’s home and hang out with him? I would wager that no, she was not.

Did the girl know the consequences of what she was doing? Possibly, and I would argue likely.

Did the athlete know what he was doing? Most likely, yes.

Did the athlete know the consequences of what he was doing? I would hope so, but perhaps not.

I would imagine that if the athlete in question knew what was about to happen after this girl left his home, he would never have invited her in in the first place. I think we can all agree on that.

And did he know she was underage? That’s another question we need to ask ourselves. Because, frankly, it’s pretty easy for someone to say they’re of-age when really they’re not. We don’t often go around asking our romantic flings to provide birth certificates.

Regardless of what the law dictates, at some point or another good judgment must be called into question. At 18-plus and 16 years of age (allegedly), both parties failed on the good judgment meter. No denying that. At 18-plus, you’re required by law to make good decisions. And at 16, you’re old enough to know what’s right and what’s wrong and act accordingly.

Think back to when you were 16. You probably did some stupid sh*t. We all did. We drank, smoked, lost our V-cards, all that stuff. Adult stuff. We made those decisions then because we felt we were capable of living up to the consequences of those decisions. You aren’t stupid when you’re 16. You aren’t innocent when you’re 16. You’re merely protected by law due to your relative youth. It’s tough to label a 16-year-old a victim in a situation where he or she knows exactly what it is that he or she is doing. I’m not saying that’s the case here, and (allegedly) it might not be. I’m just stating that in general, if you know what you’re doing at 16, whether it’s a good move or a bad one, you should have a pretty clear understanding of the consequences of your actions. You’re old enough at that point to know.

Before you go blaming either party for their roles in this debacle, consider this: there are no winners here. No one will come out of this better for it, and that sucks. This type of thing could potentially ruin two lives, not to mention the lives of the family members involved. We don’t know what happened in that home on that particular evening that these acts (allegedly) went down. There are only two people in this world who truly do know. Everyone else is merely speculating.

With regards to the athlete in question, we have to hope that he remains innocent until proven guilty. That’s how it works in this country, right? Well, yes and no. We’d like to think it does. But in situations where the word “rape” is uttered, that’s not often the case. People would rather accuse first and ask questions later. That makes it tough for everyone. Even if this whole mess ultimately bears no fruit, people will still remember Player X as an alleged rapist for years to come. That’s a horrible label to be branded with.

But at the same time, the (alleged) victim and her family can’t win here, either. Taking this thing to trial would undoubtedly bring the character of the (alleged) victim under intense scrutiny. Win or lose, justice or injustice, this 16-year-old girl would be taken apart in a courtroom. Even if her story were to hold up in its entirety, there would be no sense of victory at the end of the day.

In the end, we may never know the facts. We’ll always have stories and rumors to fall back on. But the facts will be destroyed as soon as the first untruth is told. That first untruth may already have been lobbed, or it may not come until later. Either way, when that first fib is unleashed, this will become a matter of one person’s word against another. No one will win. No one will emerge unscathed. This is the world we live in, and unfortunately, this is the harsh reality of the current situation.

17 thoughts on “The Elephant In The Room”

  1. “Fact is, a male over the age of 18 (we can infer that the athlete in question is over the age of 18, as every UW basketball player is 18 or older) engaging in sexual activity with a minor is illegal, regardless of what your opinions on the matter may be.”

    Actually that’s completely wrong. A 60-month minus one day age difference, after the youngest person is 16, is not considered illegal. Read your RCW’s

  2. This is absolutely one of the worst things I have read on this topic. You claim to be addressing issues in journalism but then degrade your argument into why it was partially the 16 year old girls fault she was sexually assaulted.

    Absolutely ridiculous.

  3. Completely missing the point. How is saying “if she was it was partially her fault” any better?

  4. Actually, there’s no 60 month time issue or anything else. If the girl was 16 or older, her age is irrelevant in this issue. The 60 month calculation only applies to sexual contact between someone between 16 & 18 and another party in a position of control or influence, like a teacher, and that section of the RCW doesn’t apply here. Her age is irrelevant; this is strictly an issue of did she consent?

  5. i heard that the police report states the two parties met on a social networking site like Facebook or myspace. if that’s true, then there is no excuse for the player to even be around her in any way. those sites clearly state your age and school network. so he knew.

    if she is 16 and he roughly 22, we have a serious lapse of judgement, regardless of the events that occurred that night. husky b-ball is better than this and frankly I’m embarrassed. I hope romar kicks him off the team if half of these alleged acts took place.

  6. The alleged player is allegedly (as far as public documents state) being investigate for a indecent liberties, not rape. Some people may suggest that’s semantics but it’s a very different charge with different penalties and burden of proof.

  7. @E: You must not be on Facebook very much. It’s actually pretty easy to hide your school and your age. That all went out the window when you weren’t required to have a .edu email address in order to create an account.

    I think Alex did a good job of emphasizing the nature of this situation. This all allegedly happened, and yet several of the commenters here have committed the very same media misstep that this article highlights. I understand that these are serious charges and should carry severe penalties for those convicted of them. But what is possibly more egregious is leveling them against an innocent person. Obviously, I have no idea if he’s innocent or guilty. I’d just like to ask everyone to hold off on lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks until something has actually been verified.

    In other news, Sark locked in a nice little class today.

  8. Excellent piece Alex, as usual, I quite like your writing AND subject matter. As the father of 2 young girls as well as a man who, in my youth, was wrongfully accused of similar misdeeds…. There are always 2 sides to the story.

    If the player is guilty of these allegations then, by all means, draw and quarter the prick.

    But, what if, just IF, the young “victim” is not quite as victimized as we’re being led to believe at first glance? What if the “victim” purported herself to be of legal age? What if she intended to “hook up” with this high profile young man only to later have guilt?

    I know it’s horrible of me to say and you have no reason to believe me, but if one of my loved one was involved in something like this, I would HAVE to ask: “What did you THINK was going to happen?” I would also ask: “Why would you LIE to your family to meet up with a boy/man you don’t know at a place you’ve never been, in the late evening?”

    Again, if the guy DID all of the things we see listed in the news/police report? The asshole is a CRIMINAL and being kicked off of Romar’s squad is the least of his worries. One will be how he’ll feel when a cell mate asks him “How he would feel if he went home no longer an ass- virgin”.

    But the truth is, At this point, it’s just as likely we have an innocent man……


  9. its venoy overton that is the main suspect allegedly right? i mean i just wanna put that out there. thats the rumor ive heard. atleast its his senior year and hes no brandon roy

  10. @TheZuck:
    I use Facebook enough to know that even if a girl didn’t list her school network she would have her age and pictures with other 16 year old friends with braces and high school sweatshirts and stuff… unless she literally created a facebook page for the sole purpose of tricking a UW bball player into statutory rape, there would have been enough evidence to tell she wasn’t of college age. if he says otherwise, it’s bullshit.

    I’m just saying… better judgement could have been used. that’s all.

  11. @E as much as that may be true, I have two friends in college with braces and they are 19 and 20 years old. They have pics of them, from this year, in HS gear.

    The internet isn’t all knowing and all truthful. It is extremely easy to lie about age, gender, appearances, etc. Facebook is the same way. You can fake age with no problem.

    We will know the verdict soon. A charging decision is expected in the next week or two. If no charges are placed I hope no names are revealed. Kiro already f’ed up by not cleaning up the poor redaction job done by the police department on the released incident document. This is what led to and allowed people to figure out which player is being investigated and as Alex said, charges or not, this will haunt him for a long, long time.

    If the two did indeed meet up and the player knew her age before hand, he made a bad decision regardless of whether sexual contact occurred, consensual or otherwise. There is a college campus full of women, of age, who would do the same things to/for him.

    If they met up and he did not know her age or was misinformed, then that is a whole ‘nother story.

    I personally feel as though there should be some consequences for the girl if it is found she lied about the incident in question as she has harmfully damaged his character for life. Defamation of character can be a big deal, especially with something of this magnitude.

    If he is found guilty, then f’ him. We don’t want to be associated with that.

  12. @John
    I would even head the other direction with respect to your daughters’. I’m not on FaceB but have been on other socials, and there are other pics and non information that would lead you believe some are 16 not 12, 21 not 18 and so forth. I’ll leave E and his sleuthiness to be the flagbearer for that level of suspect speculation. Braces….guffaw.
    What’s “someguys” damage? Putt’n it “out there” like you’re saving us from ourselves. I want to call you a name, something you would have to google, just to add a new idea to the front of the pack of your thought process.
    Like others, I want this to play out. The damage is done for most any time a rape charge is invoked even tho it may be an indecent liberties case and even though no one has proved “consent”. look at the game, look at some of the comments above and some to follow. If he’s proven innocent, who among those that want a pound of flesh right now, will actually change their perception of the guy. Not many. A haypenny’s worth likely.

    O yeah, and the Dawgs or just fine

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