If you are a sports junkie like me, you listen to a lot of sports radio and get even more fixes from many forms of sports media. For the past week, all that media has been dominated by the exploits of Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Even if you aren’t a sports junkie, you’ve had to be living under a rock in a cave on the dark side of the moon to have not heard that Roethlisberger has found himself in a bit of a jam down in Georgia.
All that media is in a full-throated roar calling for the head of “Big Ben” ever since a 20-year old college student in Milledgeville, GA, has accused him of sexual assault. All that media is engaged in an orgy of speculation, building a rail car full of conclusions all of which lead to the “fact” that he is clearly a terrible human being.
If there was ever a time to skip due process and just put somebody in front of a firing squad, this is clearly the time. After all, if the good people at ESPN say “Big Ben” is guilty, then he is guilty. Even though it is in one of the original thirteen colonies, the Constitution doesn’t apply in Bristol, Connecticut. Clearly, Ben Roethlisberger is guilty and he must die.
The first example of this “rush to judgement” orgy came from the mouth of Michelle Beadle. During her daily “shuck and jive” with Colin Cowherd, she elucidated that Roethlisberger “must have an aggressive manner towards women.” This was the underpinning for her assertion that ”one accusation can happen to anybody; two is a pattern.”
A few days later, Cowherd made a stride for the middle ground with the boiler-plate statement “We don’t know all the facts yet.” But then he joined the chorus with “In cases like this, I tend to side with the victim.”
Even the print media can’t wait to weigh in. USA Today published an article on Thursday in which the first paragraph takes the Cowherd “middle ground” approach, but spills the truth in paragraph two.
“The real issue, and nobody knows precisely how to deal with this yet, is what exactly is she saying happened?” attorney Page Pate said Thursday.
While that hits the heart of the matter, paragraph three adds the spice to this gumbo.
Under Georgia law, sexual assault covers a range of offenses from rape — with a minimum of 25 years imprisonment — to sexual battery, described as making “physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person” without consent.
In other words, it is CRUCIAL that the facts of what actually happened come to light. Until then, all the speculation and pontificating only serves to cloud the true picture, and frankly, makes those who engage in it look foolish. How does Beadle know what Roethlisberger’s manners are? For that matter, how does Cowherd know that “Big Ben” isn’t the victim in this case?
The fact is Roethlisberger is young, single, famous, and rich makes him an ideal target for accusations designed to garner a payoff. As Beadle alluded to, he has already faced a similar criminal charge; one that the police found to be without merit.
However, that has not stopped his accuser in that case from filing a civil suit seeking monetary damage. It also means nothing that a civil suit is pending, as there is really no standard for filing a lawsuit. I could file a suit today against you without even the slightest shred of evidence as the burden of proof is different in a civil case versus a criminal one.
It is time that the speculation stops, and the discovery of the facts begins.