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.