Guilty as charged may not be a persuasive opening argument.
Harvey Weinstein is a pig, and Kevin Spacey is such a creep his excuse for his alleged pedophilia seems to be he was drunk at the time. Meanwhile, Louis C.K.’s new movie, a morality tale about a Woody Allen like comedian who is infatuated with young women, has been shelved as Louis C.K.’s real life has become its own morality tale. One by one we are witnessing Hollywood titans getting pulled down so quickly you would think they were Confederate statues and monuments.
As we are barraged with new assertions daily, it was only a matter of time before the sexual harassment allegation frenzy would spin out of that den of iniquity known as Hollywood and breeze into other neighborhoods as well. Scanning the sports page, one gets the feeling the sports community is about to come under fire next. Already multiple stories are simmering under the surface. Several Olympic gymnasts have come out claiming when they were young girls they were abused. Troubled Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who during a St. Patrick’s Day celebration was videotaped lifting up a women’s top in public without seemingly asking permission, has been in a courtroom feud with the NFL over a violent confrontation with a different woman. Hope Solo claims in 2013 the then President of FIFA groped her. And finally, an old story about when Peyton Manning was 19 years old has been drug back out into the public eye again to keep up with the Weinstein feeding frenzy.
The sports community, whether it realizes it or not is on the verge of a rough ride. Add in athletic young men who make tons of money surrounded by beautiful young women vying for their attention and you have the potential for some explosive encounters. If Roger Goodell believes he has his hands full with bad publicity from CTEs and national anthem protests, he ain’t seen nothing yet.
But when the other shoe drops in the sports world don’t count me in to be standing with the mob looking for blood. For all who abuse their fellow humans I sincerely hope they get their due, but what concerns me in the currently charged atmosphere is the natural assumption of guilt and reflective condemnation whenever an accusation is brought forward in the media. Accusations are just that, and each should be looked at individually and not assumed as fact until the evidence supports it.
Take for instance the Peyton Manning scandal that dates back to 1996 when a female trainer was treating the quarterback’s hurt foot. She claims Manning, “pulled his shorts down and put his anus and testicles on my face.” Manning maintains this isn’t true and that he was merely mooning a friend in the locker room for less than one second. We of course can’t be 100% sure of who is telling the truth, but if Manning is correct then his character is being unfairly maligned every time this story hits the news.
As for Ezekiel Elliott, it is easy to assume the worst based on his checkered background, but there is uncertainty involving his troubles as well. Did you know the woman who accused him of physical assault encouraged a friend to lie to the police about witnessing Elliott assault her? And would it change your perspective if you knew the woman in the St. Patrick’s Day video was, according to Elliot, his lover and the act was consensual? A claim to the best of my knowledge has never been denied by the woman in question. Does this make the charges against Elliott untrue? Maybe not, but it does give one pause to think that it is possible that both Elliott and the company he keeps are both equally guilty of poor moral choices, rather than it being clear-cut sexual harassment and assault.
One doesn’t have to look too far back into sports history to see what can happen when allegations of sexual assault and harassment are treated as gospel without anyone bothering to look at the facts first. The members of the Duke Lacrosse team in 2006 unfairly had their reputations ruined, education interrupted and criminal charges brought against them by a false allegation. Shockingly, even after the allegations fell apart, the criminal justice system, the media and Duke professors still pushed the false narrative forward, as that suited their political interest more so than the truth. In our current atmosphere it is only a matter of time before we have another Duke Lacrosse team lynching on our hands.
I’m not saying blame the victim, but just reminding everyone that we all deserve justice, and the scales of justice has two sides.