In the case of the alleged sexual assault of a coed by two Michigan State University basketball players, there are currently more questions than answers. Here are my opinions on a few of them:
1. What did the prosecutor mean by "mutual decision?"
It sounds to me as though the prosecutor pressured the victim not to pursue this case. If the prosecutor doesn't want to pursue the case, he could easily remind the victim of the long, arduous process and the "difficulty" of convincing a jury that their basketball heroes are guilty of sexual assault.
2. Is the prosecutor a basketball fan?
If the prosecutor is a basketball fan, it could indeed have a great impact on his decision whether or not to pursue charges. It would be difficult for him to prosecute someone he cheers for on a nightly basis.
3. Is there a different standard of "justice" for MSU basketball players than there is for other citizens of East Lansing?
Often, the accused's criminal record or lack thereof is taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to prosecute. Also, outside factors such as playing varsity basketball at the local school is also taken into consideration. Sometimes, if a potential defendant is seen to have professional potential, prosecutors are less likely to "ruin this kid's life" than they are that of an average citizen.
The problem with this approach is that the victim's life, at least in East Lansing, is already ruined. The name may not be public, but I can state with confidence that it has more than likely been "grapevined" to a point where everyone who knows her and many who don't know what happened. She is more than likely the target of scorn by many fellow students who are more concerned with the performance of "their" basketball team than with what she has gone through, or the concept of the perpetrators being held responsible for their actions.
At this point, it does not appear that justice is applied equally to all citizens of East Lansing.
4. Why have the major media outlets been so slow to pick up on this story, especially the two major Detroit outlets?
Apparently, the media don't see two Michigan State University basketball players being accused of sexual assault to be important enough to cover, or at least to feature it as prominently as they would if it happened at the University of Michigan. This leads to my last question...
5. If the accused had been football players at the University of Michigan, would the coverage be different, especially in the Detroit outlets?
This has been a major point of contention for me for a long time. The media is always quick to smear the University of Michigan's athletic programs for far less than what is alleged here. The newspapers will probably say that they considered the story less than newsworthy because no charges are being filed, but the Justin Feagin story was bludgeoned to death by freep.com nearly two months before charges were filed. In addition, the Demar Dorsey story was smeared all over the sports section of the freep, when supposedly sealed juvinile records were involved.
When one adds into the equation the amount of man-hours and print that freep.com put into the "expose" of twenty minutes of "extra" stretching by the Michigan program, and the constant framing of anything negative that happens at Michigan as "proof" that "Rich Rodriguez runs a dirty program," or "the University of Michigan has a 'win at all costs' mentality," it is difficult not to draw conclusions as to the motivation of the major media outlets in Michigan.
What it comes down to is that the coverage of the major media, but especially freep.com, is driven by a pro-MSU, anti-UM agenda. This would be OK if the media were calling themselves "entertainment," but they are not. They are portraying themselves as "objective" news sources.
Wrapping it up...
It is time for the media in the state of Michigan to cover the story of the Michigan State University basketball players' alleged sexual assault with the vigor and enthusiasm with which they cover negative stories concerning the University of Michigan. Right now, a very good case could be made that the instate media care more about smearing the University of Michigan football coach and his program than they do about the rights of a young sexual assault victim to justice.
The media should be asking why there is no justice for this young woman. They should be asking why MSU basketball players are not being charged in this case even as experts in the field say that the police report in question is some of the most valid evidence for sexual assault that they have seen.
Ultimately, the media should be asking themselves if their covert agenda to act as shills for Michigan State University while attacking the University of Michigan is worth denying justice to a young victim of a sexual assault. Maybe they should all ask themselves one question:
If this happened to your daughter, sister, or anyone else you were close to, would you want this story covered up? Or would you want it to see the light of day so that a young victim could have justice?
The truth, as it was once said, is self-evident.
I would like to thank WTKA, Sam Webb, and Ira Weintraub for their coverage of this issue on Michigan Insider this morning. A few of my opinions strongly echo those of Webb. Though I didn't "borrow" any material from him, I felt that he should be acknowledged for his efforts to bring this story into the "light of day." A podcast is available at www.wtka.com