Wednesday, July 22, 2009

INTERCEPTED: The Ben Roethlisberger Sexual Assault Situation

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So it's now been two days since news broke that Ben Roethlisberger was named in a sexual assault civil lawsuit. For some reason, I'm wondering where's the 24 hour scandal cycle that commences anytime any "other" athlete is accused of anything big or small?

According to the suit Roethlisberger was named along with 9 other defendant's for sexually assaulting an employee at Harrah's hotel in Lake Tahoe back in July of 2008.

According to the New York Times:

Roethlisberger was in Lake Tahoe last July for a celebrity golf tournament. The woman said she was working on the penthouse floor at Harrah’s where Roethlisberger was staying when he assaulted her in his hotel room. She also asserts that she was hospitalized and suffered from depression.

Now I'm not saying that this woman isn't capable of lying or that her story isn't completely true, because I have no idea. My beef is what has happened in the interim while the facts play out and the proverbial "HUSH" that has fallen over networks who in the past have made their careers on stories like this one. In 2003 Kobe Bryant was arrested and charged with raping a woman who worked at a hotel in Eagle, Colorado where Bryant was staying. At the time the charges were in fact criminal and Bryant was facing jail time based on those charges. However, from the very beginning it was clear that this woman's story barely passed the smell test and her case along with her credibility quickly went down the drain. On the way down though her lawyers advised her on filing a CIVIL suit, which eventually settled for an undisclosed amount of money and went away. Not surprisingly, throughout the entire ordeal ESPN and other networks took what facts they deemed credible and worked to tarnish the reputation of a man guilty of infidelity NOT rape.

Just recently ESPN again placed on it's front page the story of Shannon Brown's sexual assault charge filed against him which was again criminal but they were quick to make headlines from it. has dug deep into the policies and positions that ESPN has regarding lawsuits that not accompanied by criminal charges. Apparently, unless there is a "crime" behind the suit they more or less steer clear of the reporting on it, which I'm sure is true but it's also very interesting. While speaking with the Wall Street Journal ESPN vice president and director of news Vince Doria, said:
Those are the things (civil lawsuits) that I think are damaging to reputations, and I think you need to know more about them before you report them," Doria said. "As it stands right now, today, we don't think it meets our standard of reporting."
Fascinating! ESPN believes that reporting on civil lawsuits causes damage to athletes reputations and require further analysis before they report on them. Who can argue with that level of journalistic integrity? Yet, I can't seem to pick my mouth up off the floor...because while I fully understand that protecting players should be a number priority, when facts aren't clear, ESPN doesn't always adhere to their own policies regarding reports on "civil suits." notes:
Did ESPN feel the same way when Mike Fish recently reported the dismissal of a civil lawsuit alleging that Roberto Alomar gave his girlfriend AIDS? Speaking of Fish, did ESPN consider whether it was "damaging . . . reputations" when Bristol went bonkos for the unsubstantiated (and ultimately retracted) allegation that the Patriots had cheated the Rams out of a Super Bowl win?
I mean for people who follow sports this claim of following "policy" doesn't pass the laugh test. Sadly, this is NO laughing matter. And while, I'm not in the business of trashing any ones character or reputation for ESPN to skirt a serious issue and hide behind some BS policy rarely exercised is both embarrassing and wreaks of "special treatment."



eXclusivity, Inc. © 2008. Design by Pocket