For the Love of the Game: Covering Up Rape to Win the Rose Bowl

by Cara on January 29, 2008

in assholes, courts, education and schools, law enforcement, misogyny, patriarchy, rape and sexual assault, violence against women and girls

Via SAFER comes this stomach-turning story from the Seattle Times about the violent history of the University of Washington football team and the way that UW has worked to cover up their crimes for the sake of winning games. In 2000, the year that team won the Rose Bowl, a dozen of its players had been arrested or charged with a crime within the past year, and at least a dozen others had been arrested or charged with a crime during previous years that they were on the team. Those crimes include a robbery and shooting, domestic violence that ended in a broken nose, a broken arm and lacerated face by a player who had previously served jail time for choking his wife to unconsciousness, and sexual assault.

This article tells the story of a sexual assault, how the drugging and raping of a fellow student was covered up by everyone who could have possibly helped cover it up and dropped by prosecutors despite a victim that wanted to go forward, DNA evidence, an eye witness to part of the rape (he called the police) and several other witnesses willing to testify that the victim was either drunk or drugged out of her mind (trigger warning for the article and the rest of the post).

Because I don’t know what else to say but feel that I must say something, a summary of the unforgivable events:

The player in question, who I think we can quite confidently say raped this woman, has a criminal history a mile long. In fact, Stevens had a violent criminal history before being accepted to the school, including threatening referees, injuring fellow players, punching holes in walls and breaking a guy’s jaw by stomping on his face while he was unconscious. The school said that “[w]e don’t give up on a player because he makes one mistake.”

So it doesn’t come as a huge shock when he somehow managed to stay on the team and at the school after he drugged a woman and raped her against a building. The eye witness who saw them called the police after the woman looked at him, not with a plea for help but with an expression that indicated she was hardly conscious and had no idea what was going on (the police never found them). The woman woke up in her bed the next morning wondering where her underwear were and having no fucking clue what had happened. Her friends had helped her home later that night because she could hardly stand on her own. Stevens had the underwear, covered in dirt, and showed it off to his fraternity brothers. They were there when the victim called Stevens and asked what had happened, when Stevens lied to her, not even claiming that the sex was consensual but that nothing had happened at all (he has a history of lying about his crimes). When the victim eventually went to the hospital, it turned out that she had been raped both vaginally and anally, and had lacerations on her anus. She must have been either still drugged or in shock to the point that she hadn’t noticed (or eventually came out of it and that’s why she sought treatment). The semen they found in both body cavities matched Stevens’ DNA. During the investigation of the case, an email by Stevens was found where he apparently threatened a different woman with anal rape.

The case was dropped for “insufficient evidence.” The school board never took disciplinary action or apparently even did an investigation. The victim ended up leaving the school until Stevens graduated because she couldn’t handle seeing him walking free as a hero around the campus and because other students apparently resented her for talking about how the star football player had raped her. The university at one point accused her of “causing embarrassment” to the school and football team. And when she and three other women filed a civil lawsuit against UW and fraternity for covering up their rapes, the school — who knew the women’s identities already — tried to get the courts to make their names public.

None of this, of course, is a new phenomenon. This is hardly the first case of a rape survivor being denied justice despite eye witnesses because her rapist(s) was an athletic star. And it doesn’t just happen with schools; professional sports players regularly have their violent crimes covered up by the organizations they play for. Rape is just the easiest crime in our society to throw into doubt. But the difference between the NFL, etc. and UW, etc. is that the NFL doesn’t hold any direct responsibility towards the women their players rape, other than the basic decency we falsely assume comes along with being human. Universities, on the other hand, have a direct responsibility to keep their students safe, to do their best to prevent rape (the most common violent crime on campuses), and to do their best to make sure that victims who come forward see justice. Professional sports organizations who cover up rape violate our expectations of each other and violate the social contract that should hold our society together, stating that public safety should come before your personal financial gain. Universities who cover up rape do all of this, but also violate the trust of all of their female students and give men impunity to rape on their property and on their watch.

And when it comes to UW, none of this was a fluke or an isolated incident. It’s being written about now because the records were previously sealed and just recently obtained. I thank the Times and writers Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry for actually telling a story that probably would have otherwise stayed buried forever. This article is apparently only part one of a four part series. I can’t fucking wait to read the rest.

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{ 15 comments }

1 Rachel January 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Wow. That was intense.
And horrifying.

2 BettyBoondoggle January 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm

This rather reminds me of the Duke case. Many MANY of those boys had long rap sheets as well, which also included sexual assault, yet they were painted as innocent victims of a lying whore. bullshit.

3 rich January 29, 2008 at 8:44 pm

The Duke case is different though because the case got botched by an overambitious attorney who blatantly skirted the law to turn the case against the Duke players. The frustrating problem is a lot of men use the Duke case as proof that rape convictions are usually bullshit fabrications. The exception does not disprove the rule.

4 Cara January 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm

I don’t know if this is what you’re suggesting but I (and many others) still don’t believe that the Duke case was a bullshit fabrication. It was a case of media hype and a moronic attorney on the case who couldn’t handle it. I doubt that things would have turned out much better if Nifong hadn’t been in charge, but doesn’t negate the accusation. And neither does pointing at the wrong frat boy.

5 rich January 29, 2008 at 8:58 pm

No, I’m not. I’m saying they make the leap in judgment from acquittal to bullshit fabrication, which then somehow extends to all rape cases.

6 Cara January 29, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Okay, good. Glad to have the verification :)

7 jovan byars January 30, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Even if the names of the rape victims are made public, the facts are STILL the same: the honchos in the Seattle college blatantly covered up the sexual assualts in order to win a game.

8 Cara January 30, 2008 at 6:22 pm

Yes. But the point, of course, was to intimidate them. Rape victims are rarely named in legal proceedings for this very reason — because they are often stigmatized, intimidated and ostracized. The point was “these uppity women can’t destroy the image of our beloved football team unless we can destroy them right back!”

9 BettyBoondoggle January 31, 2008 at 10:23 am

“The Duke case is different though because ”

Yeah, yeah,yeah, I know. The point is the media (and ever MRA on earth) loves to portray the whole team as good little boys when they are anything but.

10 FairyBerry February 3, 2008 at 6:11 pm

I go to GMU in Northern Virginia! We don’t have a football team, but a basketball team. I wonder how often this happens on my campus. I mean the overup…not the rape because I know that happens a lot.

11 arbequina February 4, 2008 at 1:25 am

Confusion…

RE: the Duke case. It’s possible I don’t have all of the information, but everything I’ve read seemed to indicate that it was a bullshit fabrication. Were the Duke kids bigots? Yes. Were they spoiled assholes? Yes. Did they rape that woman? All signs point to no… Is there something out there that says otherwise?

I think it’s dangerous to conflate a serious allegation — as it seems with this case at UW — with something like Duke. If something happened — DNA evidence, a phone call to the police, additional eye witnesses, etc. — then we should absolutely be prosecuting these offenses to the hilt. But if the evidence is limited or non-existent, I feel like we do ourselves a disservice by trying to create a parallel.

I don’t know.. help me out here.

12 Cara February 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Arbequina,

DNA evidence and additional eye witnesses are not the only reasons that a rape case should be prosecuted. If that guy hadn’t walked by, or if the woman had showered and douched before making a report, she still would have been raped.

I don’t think that anyone here is “conflating” the Duke case with this one. As has been pointed out, there have been differences in how the two cases were handled.

If someone would like to explain why so many of us believe that the accuser in the Duke case was most likely telling the truth, I’m fine with that. Links would be best, because I also am absolutely NOT going to let this thread turn into a Duke rape thread, particularly not yet another one where the merit of the allegations are debated. There are more than enough of those out there. If I see things going that way, I will either start deleting comments or shut off comments on the thread entirely.

13 BettyBoondoggle February 4, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Yeah, I’m not playing that game. there’s evidence of a rape and evidence that the pig boys at the party were deliberately using fake names to hide and/or confuse their identities.

If the wrong pig boys were identified does that magically mean there was no rape? Or does it mean that yet more pig boys got away with it?

The over all point here is that college atheletes have adults covering up their most viscious crimes to win sporting events that are entirely without use.

14 Bianca Reagan May 16, 2008 at 6:51 pm

I agree with Betty.

15 SunlessNick May 16, 2008 at 10:40 pm

The point was “these uppity women can’t destroy the image of our beloved football team unless we can destroy them right back!”

Because clearly the good name of such fine young boys deserves all the protection. What’s some girl’s body compared to that?

(Yes, that is my bitter sarcasm typing)

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