Super-famous quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the subject of a civil lawsuit that alleges he raped a woman employed at a hotel where he stayed last summer. (Anyone clicking that link, be warned: The story includes a detailed description of the alleged rape.) If he did what he’s accused of, that’s pretty fucking despicable, if soul-crushingly predictable, all by itself.
But the plague-rat topping on this shit-and-thumbtacks pie is Roethlisberger’s lawyer’s statement defending his client:
“Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone. The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct,” David Cornwell said in a statement. “If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated.” [Emphasis mine]
OK, Ben’s lawyer, let’s clear something up here. Around 60% percent of rapes are never reported at all, and even those people who do work up the strength to go to the police don’t always do so immediately. You, a fucking lawyer, who practices law for a living, and who felt qualified to give a detailed opinion on another high-profile athlete rape case, you have surely at least heard a rumor that rape is hugely underreported, even if you were not aware of the exact numbers. Look, you even said this relatively decent thing a while back, when it wasn’t your client who was making headlines:
“Most of those times, it’s mixed signals, or someone changes their mind before they complete the act,” Cornwell says. “And that means you have to stop — no means no, anytime.”
OK, that “mixed signal” bit is gross, but that thing at the end! Where no means no even if you’re already in the middle of things! That’s fucking great! That’s perfect! Way to go!
But now you’re screwed, because now I know you have at least a cursory grounding in rape law. You must, because anyone who tells athletes, “A one-night stand is a ticking time bomb,” but also knows that consent can be withdrawn at any time, no matter what must be getting it from places like this recent Maryland case, because you’re sure not getting it from our culture, and you’re clearly not getting it from feminists or people working with or for victims of sexual assault.
So! You know something about rape and the justice system! So you must also know that that thing you said? About how if someone doesn’t go to the cops soon enough he or she is clearly making it up? That’s a filthy fucking lie. And it’s a filthy fucking lie that damages not only the woman involved in this case, but every other person who does report being sexually assaulted—that would put them in the minority, remember—because every time that lie is repeated, especially by lawyers and cops and judges, it makes it harder for dozens, hundreds of other people to get a conviction. And since only about 6% of rapists ever see a day of prison, I’d say it’s hard enough as it is.
I know the “I swear it was consensual” defense isn’t particularly original, but you really ought to consider it. It has the enormous advantage of helping only one (accused) rapist walk free.