Sports and sexual assault

ETHS graduate Jeffrey Brown being arrested for sexual assault. He denies the charges.

So yesterday I wrote about some acts and people that I considered to be ripples of hope.

These included the naming of Ugandan gay activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera to receive the prestigious Martin Ennals award and the decision by a judge in Bangladesh  to sentence 11 people to life in prison for the gang rape of a young woman.

This was the good news.

Unfortunately, today I’ve learned about some bad news about sports and sexual assault.

Bernard Lefkowitz wrote about this often toxic combination in Our Guys, a searing book about the rape in Glen Ridge, New Jersey-the home town of Tom Mapother, later more popularly known as Tom Cruise-of a mentally retarded young woman.

Yesterday I heard from friend and activist Cecilia Quinn, who sent the following article about a former cheerleader in Texas who was dismissed from the squad for refusing to cheer for Rakheem Bolton, the star basketball player she said had raped her.

According to the article:

Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player – the same athlete she said had raped her four months earlier – lost a U.S. Supreme Court appeal Monday.

A federal appeals court ruled in September that the cheerleader was speaking for the school, not herself, and had no right to remain silent when called on to cheer the athlete by name.

The Supreme Court denied review of the case Monday without comment.

The article goes on to say that the girl was acting as a mouthpiece for the school.  The court said the woman’s family had to pay the district $45,000 in legal fees for the costs it incurred in the original lawsuit.

The decision has already generated some fierce commentary on Cecilia’s Facebook page:

Nancy Rivera  A “mouthpiece”?!!!! Seriously? That was what an appeals court ruled? That was their defense!?!? This is disgusting. I am with you on this! Did she sign something saying she was a “mouthpiece” for some insignificant high school footbal…See More

Cecelia Quinn I feel like suing the “school”-but seriously no learning institution would allow for such blatant misogyny & torture of a survivor of sexual violence…

Maureen Glynn Quaid Un be liev a ble

Regina Edmonds that the player was not really punished is sadly the outcome most of the time – sports rule in the USA and other places as well and why should the rape of some “snotty girl” upset the money making process of sports and the rights of male athletes to do pretty much whatever they want – it is so upsetting!!!!

Maureen Glynn Quaid Exactly why we need to have more women in power. Sadly, we live in a meathead dominated world.

Meanwhile, far closer to home, Evanston Township High School graduate Jeffrey Brown, who until recently was featured on the school’s web site celebrating his state championship in wrestling with Coach Salinas, has been arrested in Coral Gables, Florida for an alleged sexual assault.
Now a linebacker for the University of Miami, Brown allegedly assaulted his victim, who said she was so drunk she passed out, but told Brown she did not want to have sex with him.
Brown at first denied, then later admitted, he had sex with the woman, according to news accounts.
He also supposedly texted a friend asking him to throw away a pair of underwear.
Brown’s family is standing behind him and his lawyer offered a blanket denial of the charge, saying that his good name will be cleared.
Maura Bowen had this to say in support of Brown on cbs2chicago’s web site:
I personally know Jeffrey Brown and his DNA is of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! Until you looked into the eyes of Jeffrey then keep your dumb comments to yourself! I know the God that we serve is not going to let justice be done and Jeffrey will be free and the Devil will be sent back to hell once again!
Jeffrey keep your head up Man of God your church family loves u! Your Evanston Community is praying for the blood of Jesus ove this situation, we got your back T.I.G.H.T. youth ministry loves you!
The evidence is not yet clear with Brown, but appears more so in the incident with the basketball player.  All too often the woman who is assaulted becomes doubly victimized if she speaks up, being told both that she “wanted it” and blamed for any consequence that happens to the rapist.   These tendencies can be accentuated when the assailant has a lot of social status due to being a star athlete.
What is your take on these situations?  Are cheerleaders mouthpieces?  What options do rape survivors have to register their protests?  Are athletes sometimes targeted unfairly because of their social status?
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