Grab some popcorn, kids! It's time for one of my favorite windows into America's soul: a celebrity pro athlete rape case! There's no circus like a media circus, and two time Super Bowl champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers is in the center ring juggling flaming bowling pins in front of a dancing bear. Such excitement. Such suspense.

Will there be victim-blaming? Will the prosecutor puss out and refuse to file charges? Will irrelevant details of the accuser's private life be open for public debate? Will we get an explanation for why the media are so obsessed with the consensual sex life of Tiger Woods (hint: BLAAAAAAAAAAAACK!) but comparatively disinterested in the Big Ben case?

If you missed it – and there's an excellent chance that you have, unlike the tale of Mr. Woods – Big Ben is accused of sexual assault on a 20 year old college student in a bar in Milledgeville, GA. Some facts we know. The QB's bodyguards were asked to scan the bar to invite women back into the "VIP" section. I assume this meant scanning for intelligent-looking people so they could discuss Proust. One female (not the accuser) reported that the accused made a crude sexual advance when she asked for an autograph. Sounds fair; I also charge oral sex for my autograph! Witnesses, and perhaps also the unreleased security camera footage, claim that bodyguards blocked the door to the bathroom in which the assault allegedly occurred. Good to know that those bodyguards understand how to look after their client's interests. Lastly, according to Ben's version of events, they engaged in some sexual contact short of intercourse (perhaps "heavy petting") and the accuser "fell and hit her head." Note that neither he nor anyone in his party offered any assistance to the woman after her potential closed head trauma.

He has hired a battalion-sized team of lawyers and private investigators who are investigating the matter more vigorously than the police at this point. They have yet to question him and dropped a request for a DNA sample. Fullest extent of the law indeed. Since I'm sure the attorneys, investigators, and police will have plenty of questions about the accuser, I think in the interest of fairness we should treat both parties in this dispute equally. I have a pair of questions for Big Ben. You know, standard American rape case questions, albeit not ones commonly directed at the accused.

First, this is the second rape allegation against the QB in less than a year. Doesn't this suggest a pattern of questionable conduct on his part? Let's start digging through his personal history.

Second, wasn't he kinda asking for it? I mean, he's a 28 year old man hanging out and getting wasted with college girls. Then takes one of them into a bathroom with no witnesses. All of this while he is under a pending civil suit for rape in another state. Let's suspend logic for a minute and accept the standard American male sports guy's explanation for these incidents: the girl is some gold-digging slut looking to falsely accuse rich men and get paid off. If that was the case, why in God's name would he allow himself to be "victimized" by getting drunk with immature college kids and then being alone with one of them? Talk about asking for it. He was begging. This is not how you should dress if you don't want to be accused of rape:

Not pictured: class, judgment

(note: This is an photograph from an unrelated incident, but doesn't it speak to his character deficiencies? Doesn't it?)

Seriously, someone who subscribes to the idea that wealthy male celebrities walk around wearing a bullseye should not be partying with the girls from the local Delta Zeta. That is, unless he wants to be victimized.

Maybe I am being more cynical than necessary. He may be investigated thoroughly and perhaps even prosecuted. Not all of the news has been good for Ben so far – just listen to teammate and fellow bar attendee Willie Colón stand behind his friend (His attorney said Mr. Colón has "no knowledge of the incident and his name should not be brought up about this incident again.") Or maybe he really is innocent and the victim of malicious accusations. Which of those we think is most likely says a lot about us as individuals and as a society.

37 thoughts on “FAIR AND IMPARTIAL”

  • While race may have something to do with the Woods/Roethlisberger distinction in media attention, I'm more inclined to attribute to at least three other factors:

    1) Woods is among the most, if not the single most, recognizable sports star worldwide. Big Ben may have a some measure of fame, but he doesn't hold a candle to the shadow that Woods casts.

    2) The media persona that Woods cultivated is so unlike the person that he's been revealed to be. Most everyone knew Roethlisberger was a huge douchebag. I sincerely doubt many people thought Woods was a dipshit before last Thanksgiving.

    3) The difference in drama. Compare the sheer salaciousness of the Woods story – the car crash, a golf-club wielding Elin, a hush hush police investigation, 14 extramarital relationships, etc. – compared to Roethlisberger's rather straightforward sexual assault/rape case.

    In addition, Woods' story trickled out here and there over a slow Thanksgiving news cycle, while Roethlisberger's case conveniently came out when the sports world is focused on spring training, the Olympics and preparing for march madness.

    Race may be a part of it. A desire to sell the most surprising, salacious news story about one of the most prominent athletes in the world is probably a far bigger part.

    All that said, they are both complete asshats. Roethlisberger (amazingly?) is probably the bigger of the two.

  • Crazy for Urban Planning says:

    Ed on this one I can't totally agree with you. Look at the sports media, they are not in the business to actually investigate anyone like a political journalist is (used to be). Every story you hear on ESPN or read in a sports page is basically just hyping the next game or sporting event for us to sit in front of a television like a zombie or spend 100 dollars for a ticket.

    They have covered Tiger Woods situation because he/his girls told them everything about the situation (for that matter, the tabloids have covered it in more detail than ESPN or some other sports media network). Obviously Big Ben is not a very nice man, but sports journalists don't really know anything about the people they cover. A journalist talks to athletes about sports. No-one has ever asked Ben where he planned to party the Tuesday night after he won some football game. If you want to rant about something rant about how useless sports journalists are.

    It is worth pointing out that 20 years ago it didn't matter what an athlete did – they couldn't get caught without this internet machine following everyone around. Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle must have been a complete jerks & drunks, but no-one cared because they won baseball games and hit the ball pretty well.

  • This gets to the heart of a paradox of modern sports journalism: is the non-atheletic activity of athletes more appropriate fodder for the sports page or the news page? As a news page reader, I don't really give a fuck. As a sports page reader, I also don't really give a fuck. Well, if it's Charles "Officer, I Was Just Speeding to Get to My Blowjob" Barkley, then I enjoy reading about it. But most of the time it ruins the news page and the sports page.

  • This is the classic Micheal Jackson conundrum. If you're a celebrity, you're a target for accusation. But you can also use your money and power to fight those accusations. Whether you spend your life being guilty or innocent is a personal choice, I guess.

    I haven't been up to date on this case but I think you make an excellent point about celebrities needing to be cautious in situations where they could be accused of wrongdoing. It sickens me in an unbearable way to think that a young girl could be raped and her perpetrator could get away with it due to celebrity, so I'd rather believe she made it up. Yes, that's what I'm believing . . .

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    Yeah but haven't the victims (male or female for that matter) learned a lesson? (i.e. that celebrities are trouble???)

    Seriously, what part of "hey, wanna suck on the presidential penis" did Monica think was a good idea? I mean it's one thing to blame the victims in ordinary, non-celebrity rape cases, it's another when the person is crazy-famous and possibly even known to be trouble? (I hear OJ is dating again!)

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    The only way justice gets done on a rapist athlete is when it takes place inside the world of Law and Order: SVU. If only Detectives Benson and Stabler were real. Like Jake Plummer and Cobe Bryant, he'll most likely get away with it, and go on to be worshipped by young boys. Gee, I wonder why we have such problems with sexism and rape in our society!!!

  • Oh, yeah. Sex, football, bigotry, celebrity…this is definitely a post for me.

    Will we get an explanation for why the media are so obsessed with the consensual sex life of Tiger Woods (hint: BLAAAAAAAAAAAACK!)
    Yeah, or…really wealthy, top of his game, #1 in his sport, involving infidelity on a former model-wife, violence, intrigue, a car crash, tons of endorsements. And, you know, a long string of attractive women.
    vs. a guy who's in the farm league for all of the above, who's got a couple of accusers.

    (Mind you, I think the Kobe Bryant rape accusation might be a better parallel. I don't know if his got more coverage. Still, both Bryant and Woods had "clean" images, whereas Big Ben's brand is…a bit more scruffy.)

    While I have no idea what happened, you would think Ben would have behaved a bit differently until he's vindicated in the first case. Yes, he does have to fight for his right to paaarty. Yes, he probably is more attracted to college women than 28 year old women. But maybe he could have been more diligent in planning his strategy, so that he wouldn't be vulnerable to accusations and his compulsions…

  • I'm not sure if I am remembering correctly, but isn't this incident the one where the investigating officers asked for the autograph of the accused and then said it wouldn't have any effect on the investigation?

  • "Yeah but haven't the victims (male or female for that matter) learned a lesson? (i.e. that celebrities are trouble???)"

    I think you are expecting too much from a 20 year old coed, at least in this case. I'm pretty sure the stars in their eyes would blind them to any lesson out there.

  • What, was Tiger Woods involved in some scandal? Man, I have _got_ to start watching television again, I'm missing just everything.

  • As soon as this case ends — whatever its outcome — I expect some sort of responsible authority to look into prosecuting the guy for ever setting foot in a place like Milledgeville, GA. Where the hell is that, man?

    The Woods thing is unique in one non-negligible respect: when's the last time anyone's ever heard of somebody famous cheating on their wife with 14 different people? They guy makes Elliot Spitzer look like a paragon of conjugal virtue. He is to John Edwards what gay porn is to Luchino Visconti.

  • I mean it's one thing to blame the victims in ordinary, non-celebrity rape cases, it's another when the person is crazy-famous and possibly even known to be trouble?

    No, not really. Blaming the victim in either case makes you a dick.

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    OneMadClown, really? In ALL situations? If you truly believe such bigoted nonsense I have a lacrosse team to sell you.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    He needs to be prosecuted, not just for rape, but also theft; one outstanding charge of robbing Nick Harper of a TD.

  • So, who was the victim in the Duke lacrosse situation at the outset? And when everything came to pass in that case, who was/were the victim/s?

    Blame the accuser is a fucking outrage, but sometimes the accuser has done so falsely and is then arrested in suspicion of attempted murder a few years later.

    However, the Milledgeville police seem to be doing a completely shitacular job in investigating this.

    I also agree with whoever posted above that the Woods parallel is weak while the Kobe Bryant not-rape-because-she-wanted-it seems much closer.

  • Displaced, I think part of the confusion is in your use of the word "victim." Victim to me means somebody who genuinely WAS harmed; in rape allegations, somebody who was actually raped. So when you said that it is sometimes okay to blame the victim, it kind of sounded like you were saying that women sometimes deserve part of the blame for being raped. I think you probably meant to say "accuser." The accuser in the lacrosse case turned out not to be a victim.

  • "Second, wasn't he kinda asking for it? I mean, he's a 28 year old man hanging out and getting wasted with college girls. Then takes one of them into a bathroom with no witnesses.'

    For every one college girl that cries 'rape,' there are probably about 25 others who would gleefully drop their panties at ben's slightest suggestion. If you're a young, horny, and plastered out of your mind pro quarterback, I'm sure it seems like a perfectly justifiable risk. And as long as he makes sure to not, you know, actually rape anybody (by plebeian standards anyway) I'm sure that he rightly assumes that his lawyers and money can easily smooth out whatever discrepancies may arise.

    As for the reason that the media has paid no attention to this, and far more than is necessary on Woods, I think the reason may have to do with the fact that Woods has been a worldwide household name for at least ten years–both as a champion golfer and as a paragon of class and composure amongst the celebrity class–whereas no one who's not a football fan has any fucking idea who Big Ben is.

  • displaced Capitalist says:

    Very good points all. I stand corrected.

    It is interesting that just as much as people are willing to assume the accused are guilty, we also assume that the accusers are "victims."

    Funny how our legal system does that thing, you know, whatsitcalled? "Innocent until proven guilty?"

    I can only hope that when my daughter grows up she'll know better than to stay away from assholes like celebrities… But of course, my disapproval will probably result in her running to the nearest jerk just to spite me. :(

  • Entomologista says:

    Victim: "That guy mugged me."
    Mugger: "No I didn't! He just gave me that money."
    DA: "Well, this looks like a case of he-said, he-said. I don't think we have enough evidence to prosecute."

  • Clearly golf has surpassed football as the sport of choice in America. That's what I've learned from all this.

  • "Yeah but haven't the victims (male or female for that matter) learned a lesson? (i.e. that celebrities are trouble???)"

    What lesson are they supposed to have learned? That women who accuse celebrities of rape are lying sluts on the make? Which resonates until they are the 'lying slut'.

  • This is a mostly funny-as-fuck blog and usually the topic of victim-blaming gets me all fired up, so I wasn't expecting to erupt in laughter when you said he was begging for it. I've worked with young rape survivors who have attempted suicide because they feel alone and worthless due to people (family members!) blaming them for their rapes and that makes me a bit of a Debbie Downer on this thread.

    It's frustrating: in all these cases people are more than willing to make excuses for the players and question the character and intent of every woman involved ("Oh no, she's had sex before, she couldn't have possibly said, 'No!'"). It's easier to victim-blame than use logic or impartiality.

    I don't follow football beyond hometown scores and some headlines and I am well aware of Ben and his first, and now second, rape accusation. I'm glad that almost everyone agrees he is a total asshole. (I thought this from the beginning, but mostly because I live in Cleveland.)

    The issue of celebrities, money trumping justice and biased media coverage underlines how poorly our society addresses sexual assault. I can't agree with you more about the fuckedupedness of this situation and others like it. I really don't care if his accuser was ass-naked and dancing on a table when he met her, rape is rape. If he deserves to be treated fairly until proven guilty, how is it fair that we automatically question her accusation of crime? We don't do this for any other criminal report. We don't question robbery victims for example, but we sure as hell rake rape survivors over the coals as Entomologista so hilariously eludes to her post. Cuz ya know, stealing pussy is totally debateable cuz it's still there, but if he hadda stolen her wallet…what? We'd all be in a mob frenzy? I don't get it.

    What really grinds my gears are people who will always point to shit like the Duke case and hold it as proof that rape survivors are liars, sluts, asking for it, etc. What some people fail to accept and acknowledge is that for every one false rape accusation there are hundreds more that go unreported or fail to see the light of day in court.

    Yeah, Tiger is not being accused of rape, so there is no parallel in the facts, but I completely agree with your race angle. Yes, Tiger is supermega famous, but black athletes are always viewed as primitive beasts with hyperactive lust for (white) women and sometimes dudes prove this sterotype to be true. But in the end, like OJ and Kobe, (Tyson?) and whomever else I am forgetting, money keeps them all on top.

  • Bottom line, kids, is none of us knows if he committed a crime not. If there are security videos that show specific actions – or not -then that evidence should be pretty conclusive.

    I'm not about victim blaming. If Ben is guilty, then I hope it comes out, and he's prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    Meanwhile, until PROVEN guilty, he's innocent. That might even be in the Constitution, somewhere . . .


  • @MarilynJean – "What some people fail to accept and acknowledge is that for every one false rape accusation there are hundreds more that go unreported or fail to see the light of day in court."


    I was reading through these comments, becoming sadder and angrier, until I came to this. This 'she-was-asking-for-it' bullshit is disgraceful. Why do so many intelligent and sensitive guys lose their shit (and reason) when sex and/or athletic heroes are involved?

  • Late back to the party, but I did want to verify that by "victim", I meant someone who actually had been assaulted.

  • http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/03/25/roethlisberger.bar.video/

    Huh. Interesting. How very, very lucky for Roethlisberger. The luck just keeps coming his way, as it generally does for very rich white men with very good lawyers. And if by some miracle he this actually goes to trial I'm sure the accuser will, in another piece of amazing luck, be a Crazy Slut. Just like Kobe Bryant's accuser.

    Well maybe justice will be done and the next time the entitled rapist idiot crashes his motorcycle it will be into a wall.

  • Will there be absurd and unfounded accusations of racism? Yes, yes there will be. Tiger was all over the news because the story was hilarious.

    But, yeah, I think the press should totally rush to judgement on the Roethlisberger case and make sure he's convicted in the court of public opinion before he's even charged – it's so great when the press does that.

  • @smmo-

    He's lucky in the same way he hired the same attorney that got Ray Lewis out of murdering two people while holding the bloody murder weapon.

    Entitled? Of course. Idiot? You bet your sweet ass. Rapist? Careful throwing that word around, fuckhead.

  • @Erin "Rapist? Careful throwing that word around, fuckhead."

    Or what? Steelers fans will insult me on a blog ? I think I'll live.

    I stand with the woman. You side with the multi-millionaire celebrity serial abuser of women. Your opinion of me or anything else couldn't matter less.

  • Rongrastname hasn't been convicted of rape of any kind. Whether or not he's a rich white idiot fuckwit male in America, dude deserves due process.

    Call him a rapist all you want. Be as indiscriminate with your condemnation as you can. He's a rapist because someone said he was and no trial or lack thereof will scour that tarnish off the rest of his days making horrible decisions.

    /Seahawks fan. Fuckhead.

  • "Whether or not he's a rich white idiot fuckwit male in America, dude deserves due process."

    Yes, but is he also entitled to jock sniffing passionate defense from fans , not of jurisprudence or fair treatment by the media, but of one football team over another?

    "Rich white male" is pretty much who due process was invented for. I wouldn't worry about your boy. He's golden. The tape is magically erased, the woman is magically a Crazy Slut, Ben's penis lives to be victimized another day.

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