Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remember Duke lacrosse?

Before anyone reads this, they should know that I have not commented nor will I comment on anything related to Penn State and Jerry Sandusky or Syracuse and Bernie Fine. As a student at Penn State, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to share my opinion on this medium. Likewise, both stories are developing and new information is being released everyday. My thoughts on both subjects are constantly changing, so it would be pointless for me to immortalize my opinion on the internet if I may change my mind. There are plenty of well-written columns out there if that’s what you’re looking for. If you really want to know what I think, come talk to me. That’s the only way I’ll discuss it.

This is what I will share: I do not support child abuse. I do not support pedophiles. I do not support inaction in light of these crimes. I think the acts described in the Sandusky grand jury report are heinous and vile. I think the acts alleged of Fine by the accusers are just as heinous and vile.

With that in mind, I’d like to explore an angle to these scandals that I haven’t seen yet. Here’s a fact: Sandusky and Fine are innocent. Whether they will remain so is a question for another day. Both have been accused by multiple people of unspeakably immoral acts, and it’s hard not to throw stones at them when those acts are actually spoken. Still, they are innocent until proven guilty, and I can’t help but put myself in their shoes and ask, “What if?” No matter how small it may seem, there is always a chance they didn’t do it, and if it turns out they didn’t...

I’ll start with Fine because there is currently less evidence working against him. If he didn’t do it, he still lost his job, his reputation and his legacy. These are things he can never get back. These are things he has lost because of three accusers who didn’t come forward until decades after the alleged incidents occurred. One of these accusers faces his own share of sexual assault charges in Maine. His father vehemently denies that any of the incidents involving the accuser and Fine ever took place. Furthermore, the voice of who ESPN thinks is Fine’s wife says in a taped phone call she knew everything that was going on with her husband. Why did she never go to the police? 

Again, I’m not saying the alleged victims are right or wrong, but there are undeniably some problems with credibility that a defense attorney would exploit in a trial. 

In the case of Sandusky, he hadn't been a public figure for several years, so others have taken the a lot of flak as the case has evolved. Regardless of how the trial goes, Joe Paterno still lost his job. Paterno still lost his reputation and his legacy. Former president Graham Spanier still lost all these things. It’s likely that assistant coach Mike McQueary and AD Tim Curley will still lose all these things. And it’s likely that all Penn State’s football coaches will still lose their jobs at the end of the season.

All because of what an innocent man did.

Are Syracuse and Penn State jumping the gun on these firings? That’s something I couldn’t tell you; there are legitimate arguments that they are and that they aren’t. Are people jumping the gun on their outrage? No, I don’t think so. When accusations such as these arise, it’s only natural that people will want to take out their anger and frustration on someone, and it’s not going to be the alleged victims. 

However, the Duke lacrosse case showed us the difference between victim and accuser can be more gray than black and white. A girl accused three boys of raping her. They didn’t. There was no clear reason why she said this, but she did. Because she did, the head Duke lacrosse coach lost his job, the district prosecutor was disbarred and the players lost respect, their reputation, a season of lacrosse, and countless hours of their lives fighting for their freedom.

All because one person lied. It could happen to anybody. 


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  1. It's refreshing to hear a new, and really interesting, perspective. A lot to think about! Look forward to more!

  2. Excellent post. Cannot wait for more. At the very least, this post is a reminder of that all-important tenet of our justice system: innocent until proven guilty.