“We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise…”

If you wonder why some people are reluctant to pursue criminal complaints against star athletes, this might help illuminate the problem:

Officer Pate’s blunt interviewing style did not help, the student said. “The first thing he asked me,” she recounted, “was if I was sure this was rape or if I just didn’t want a baby or wanted the morning after pill.” He also made comments, she said, “like, ‘Are you sure you want to file a report? It will be very awkward, especially for a female.’”

In his complaint to the police, the father wrote that Officer Pate had suggested that an investigation “would be futile, as ‘this kind of stuff happens all the time here.’”

Or to put it another way,

A decade before the Winston case, the inspector general found that Florida State had violated its policy when the athletic department failed to inform the campus police of a rape accusation against one of its standout football players. Mr. Ruiz, the former prosecutor who handled the case for the state attorney’s office, recalled that the coach at the time, the revered Bobby Bowden, attempted to convince him that a crime had not occurred. A jury eventually acquitted the player.

“I learned quickly what football meant in the South,” said Mr. Ruiz, who grew up in New York State. “Clearly, it meant a lot. And with respect to this case I learned that keeping players on the field was a priority.”

Just win, baby.  Everyone in a college town knows what that means.

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73 Comments

Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment

73 responses to ““We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise…”

  1. Spike

    Yea, and nothing bad like that EVAH happens in New York..

    • Normaltown Mike

      my thought exactly.

      Justice is pure as the wind driven snow in the Apple.

      • The point being, what, that the TPD gets a pass b/c the NYT is located in a city with bad cops? Or is this just a knee-jerk, screw the liberal media response?

        • Normaltown Mike

          No, that Ruiz made a stupid statement. Our justice is far from just and laying that at the feet of a region and a sport is stupid.

          • “I learned quickly what football meant in the South,” said Mr. Ruiz, who grew up in New York State. “Clearly, it meant a lot. And with respect to this case I learned that keeping players on the field was a priority.”

            Which part of that is stupid – the part about football being a big deal down here, or his expressing what he learned from an investigation/prosecution that you have no direct knowledge of?

            • Normaltown Mike

              I get it. Bigotry is cool, as long as you are part of the cool group. Because you can describe an entire region (or is he describing a cardinal direction?) through one experience.

              I wanna play…

              “I learned quickly what dividing up Neil Diamond record collections and child custody meant in New York state.” I said (I grew up in Atlanta). “Clearly, it meant a lot. And with respect to this case I learned that controlling the distribution of marital assets and more favorable Thanksgiving visitations by judge shopping and kickbacks is a priority in New York state”

              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/20/nyregion/20judge.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

              • It’s bigoted to say that football in the South is a big deal?

                Methinks you’re being overly sensitive.

                • Turd Ferguson

                  Methinks you’re avoiding Mike’s point, which I take to be obvious. It’s a pretty straightforward case of implicature. Naturally, people will read Ruiz’s comment as implicating something like the following: Southerners care more about football than justice, even in cases of rape. And equally naturally, many Southerners will take exception to that.

                  If someone were to ask me, “Is Sam a good student?” and I were to respond by saying, “Well … he’s got great handwriting!” I’d naturally be interpreted as implicating that Sam is not a good student … even if that’s technically not what I said. So for me to say, feigning ignorance, “But I didn’t say that Sam is a bad student” would be foolish.

                  Did Ruiz say that Southerners are people who care more about football than justice, even in cases of rape? Nope, technically, he did not. But is it foolish to deny that this is what many will take him to be implicating? Yes. I think you’re acting a little too much like a lawyer here, and not enough like someone who speaks English.

                  • Technically? Ruiz qualified his comment with “in this case” – a case in which, by the way, the football head coach directly lobbied a prosecutor to drop charges against one of his players.

                    That sounds like someone who’s trying to avoid painting with a broad brush.

                    I take his first sentence as an explanation of the motive behind the TPD’s behavior. YMMV, of course.

                    • tbia

                      Funny, our swim coach is in purgatory for directly lobbying a professor to do something which, while unusual, is done often campus wide. It became an issue when the incomplete requested became a pass.

                      In the meantime, a college football coach directly lobbies in a criminal matter, and the Noles win a crystal football.

                      Well, at least they did beat Auburn.

                    • Normaltown Mike

                      Ok, but it was jury that acquitted. Is the jury system in the South run amok with jock sniffing inbreds?

                      I’ve served on juries and while there is no shortage of inbreds, they aren’t jock sniffers!

                      (kidding about the inbreds, I’ve never served on a Jackson county jury)

                    • Is the jury system in the South run amok with jock sniffing inbreds?

                      That’s what Ronnie Cottrell was banking on. And Ray Keller.

                      And how much trouble did they have finding a jury to try Harvey Updyke?

                    • Turd Ferguson

                      Exactly. Ruiz has drawn, apparently from his experience with “this case,” a conclusion about “what football mean[s] in the South.” And that, to you, is someone trying to avoid painting with a broad brush? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume you’re being disingenuous.

                      I wonder if we’d even be having this conversation if it were a story in which a different population was singled out with some hasty and unflattering generalization.

                    • You mean like Spike’s been doing with Northerners? ;)

                      Again, this is a sideshow to the main point of the article. But go ahead with it if it makes you feel better.

                      And, no, I wasn’t being disingenuous.

                    • By the way, I take it you don’t see a different between “meant in the South” and “meant to Southerners”.

                      The latter could be construed as a personal affront. The former could be construed to mean Bobby Bowden knew how important it was to keep his players out of jail.

                  • 81Dog

                    I think Ruiz’s comment is what Keith Olbermann would call a “dog whistle.” Ruiz gets to imply that Southerners are ignorant rednecks who don’t care about rapes as long as the football team wins, while denying he said any such thing. Of course, only a clever New Yorker who’s so much smarter than the dumb hicks down South could think no one down here, but everyone back in the land of Perfect Justice, would know what he meant.

                • Normaltown Mike

                  Turd states it eloquently enough. The bad actions of some people in this case is not proof of some larger point about an entire region (or cardinal direction, if that’s what he means).

                  Last I checked, Valdosta is part of the South. If Ruiz worked the Mettenberger case, would he confidently say that football is not that big a deal in the South and that keeping players eligible is not a big deal?

                  In either case, drawing a big picture from a small incident is stupid.

                  • If Ruiz worked the Mettenberger case, would he confidently say that football is not that big a deal in the South and that keeping players eligible is not a big deal?

                    Good question. Let’s ask somebody in Baton Rouge. Or in Huntley Johnson’s office. Or Jim Donnan. Or…

                    • Normaltown Mike

                      Or CMR? Jimmy Williams?

                      I get your point, but we’re all individuals. Some tolerate bad behavior, some don’t. It’s bigotry to impute a negative characteristic to a region (or cardinal direction) b/c of the actions of a few individuals.

                    • Honestly, I get yours, too.

                      But here’s a big article, well researched, about a problem that I didn’t identify as endemic to a region (“Just win, baby. Everyone in a college town knows what that means.”), and the initial take by some of you is to go off on a tangent because (you feel) a quote from a guy is insensitive to Southerners? Sorry if I think there’s another agenda there.

    • What does this even mean? Like…what the hell does this have to do with anything in the (fantastic) piece?

  2. Dog in Fla

    Brady Hoke likes the way they do things in Tallahassee and wishes the UM Central Student Government had Officer Pate’s blunt interviewing style

  3. Doggoned

    I thought the issue was the shoddy and likely biased rape (non)investigation, not perceived regional bias.

    • Yup. But why was the investigation poorly handled?

      • Doggoned

        Obviously, the implication is because Tallahassee is a Seminole town. But I don’t think that’s limited to the South. My post was questioning the reactions of all the posters who seemed to think the story was anti-South propaganda.

        • Well, Diaz did use the “S” word. And he’s originally from New York. And he was quoted in the NYT.

          Damned Yankees.

          • Q

            Took a couple journalism classes. Two professors from NY and PA had bosses require them to mention “southern,” “hate crime” and other irrelevant (for that particular piece), story-selling buzzwords. Now maybe you don’t think this is one of those time where it’s irrelevant, but I can sure see why people do. PSU, Notre Dame and Michigan covered up rapes. Care to wager that when the Hoke coverup comes out, “midwest” won’t be mentioned? That’s just not a stereotype that sells.

  4. Cousin Eddie

    Well in my opinion we have found a police department worse than the APD. Trying to push back against a crime this bad is worse than being over zealous on minor traffic stops. If this had happened in Athens what would Williams have done?

    • Debby Balcer

      When it happened in Milledgeville and Ben Roethlisberger was the accused the same thing happened. Unfortunately when the accused is a star they are handled with kid gloves. Roethlisberger was investigated out of the south with the same results.

  5. AthensHomerDawg

    Football is just as important north of the mason dixon line. It hasn’t been that long ago…

    http://www.thenation.com/blog/172042/notre-dame-and-penn-state-two-rape-scandals-only-one-cry-justice

  6. AthensHomerDawg

    No football is not as important in the South as it is at other places…
    *”Jenkins has shown no public regard or concern for the fact that his school has become a place where women alumni warn prospective female students that rape has become a part of campus life.”

    “Notre Dame football. The football program in 2012 was valued by Forbes as the third “most valuable” in the country, behind far larger state universities in Texas and Michigan. This is just the formal economy. Informally, every hotel, every bar, every kid at the side of the road selling bottled water depends on Notre Dame football. Home games generate $10 million in local spending for a community of just 100,000 people. It is the beating economic heart of South Bend and women have become, in this sclerotic set up, the collateral damage.”

  7. TEXAS DAWG

    This kind of makes you wonder if maybe this had anything to do with Coach Pruitt suddenly and unexpectedly leaving Tallahassee? Could it be that he couldn’t hold his nose any longer? We criticize Coach Richt at lot for the number of players dismissed or suspended. Could it just be that he is trying to do things the right way that that integrity is more important than winning. Could it be that Pruitt wanted to be in an environment more like that? I don’t have the answers, just more questions. One thing I am sure of however is that non of us would want this dark cloud hanging over UGA.

    • Dog in Fla

      Good point but my guess is that that the allgations and make-believe investigation did not have anything to with his departure because it was not a blip on Willie Meggs radar screen. After all, he has to run for re-election and win to stay as a participant in the Florida Retirement System, the best retirement system in the Southern part of the galaxy as we presently know it

  8. 81Dog

    Ruiz is an idiot if he doesn’t think the people at the top of the food chain, whoever they are and where ever they are, look out for their own. Didn’t new NYC Mayor DeBlasio just stir up some trouble trying to interfere with a police investigation? I’m pretty sure none of them were football players, but they were all people who were his supporters. I guess that’s different.

    • Ruiz is an idiot if he doesn’t think the people at the top of the food chain, whoever they are and where ever they are, look out for their own.

      I doubt he’d argue that with you. The comment about football in the South was just an explanation for why in that particular case those people acted as they did.

      • MinnesotaDawg

        No kidding. Seems like a lot of people are more offended by the perceived regional slight (even if true) by an “outsider” than by the disgusting and outrageous behavior of the public officials in the story. The general “fuck the media” or “they’re just as bad” fan response to bad behavior by athletes, administrators, coaches, and those public officials looking out for the program, is tiresome, but nonetheless disturbing.

        • Q

          Why can’t they be annoyed by both? Rape is disgusting. The implication by an outsider that southerners tolerate it should be found disgusting to other southerners.

          • The implication by an outsider that southerners tolerate it…

            He didn’t say that. You and others want to read his comments that way, fine. But you should understand others disagree with your interpretation.

            • Q

              Sure. Ruiz mentions “the south” in case we forgot where Tallahassee is.

              My previous post explains why I think journalists go after stereotypes. This comment is a response to the ridiculous notion that people here think southern stereotypes are worse than rape.

              • “I learned quickly what football meant in the South…”

                If that’s incredibly offensive, I’ll have to stop posting similar things at GTP.

                • Q

                  And what did he learn that football means in the south? Winning > rape investigation.

                  • Which is a helluva lot different from football > rape.

                    • Q

                      Of course. Where does he get the idea that in the “south” winning trumps rape investigations? Message boards and sports bars?

                    • Are you serious? He was front and center when the head football coach and university president directly involved themselves in a criminal investigation of a football player and nobody batted an eye over it.

                    • Q

                      And of course, I’m talking about the rest of the south he extrapolated onto.
                      FSU’s athletic dept, sure. FSU, I guess. Tallahassee, stretch. Florida, how? Southerners, wtf?

                    • Again, he made two comments, which, taken separately, don’t seem controversial at all: one, football is a big deal in the South; two, in the case he handled, there was a high priority to keep players on the field.

                      Somebody’s doing some extrapolating here, but it ain’t Ruiz.

                • Q

                  Jay Heinrich has a fun book “Thank you for arguing.” Maybe I’ll endorse it better after playing with his argue lab.

                  Anyway, he covers commonplaces – ideas that we share on people, values, politics, team loyalties, whatever. They’re used as quick glue to get in so that you can sell your idea. Ruiz, I think, drops the “southern” label so his readers can relax, rest on their southern stereotypes and understand that protecting rapists for football wins is not surprising behavior.

                  I get you don’t see it, but I don’t find it a stretch at all considering the way journos abuse stereotypes to get clicks.

                  • Ruiz was the prosecutor, not the author of the article.

                    • Q

                      How is that relevant? I said Ruiz, should have said the authors name. Doesn’t change my point.

                    • Ruiz made the comment to explain how a football coach and college president could involve themselves in an active criminal investigation with no repercussions. He’s not spreading a stereotype for the benefit of NYT readers; he’s describing the license plate number on the truck that hit him when he prosecuted the case.

                      As 81Dog said, it’s not like the rich and powerful don’t corrupt the justice system all over the country. All Ruiz does here is explain the motive as to why it happened to him.

                      The idea that there’s an anti-Southerner agenda driving the article – well researched as it is – that serves to undercut the story… well, that sounds like an effort to let certain readers rest on their stereotypes, too.

                • Q

                  Last point and I’ll leave it alone.

                  I never said that there is an anti-southern agenda driving the article. FSU’s f’ed leadership clearly deserves plenty of press. The implication of similarity (as I see it) btw FSU and the rest of us irks me. That’s all.

      • 81Dog

        OK. So, people in the South are ignorant rednecks who care more about football than rape victims, per Mr. Ruiz. No value judgment implied. Got it! ;-)

  9. Slaw Dawg

    I read and enjoy the New York Times (as well as the WSJ and other actual newspapers) and think the “liberal media” conspiracy meme goes in the same eye-rolling category as grassy knoll and Area 51 conspiracists. I also think this particular article is a timely and important piece of reporting and, as the father of a young lady (and a young football playing man) hope it gets much attention.

    But as a resident of the Northeast, I can assure everyone of 2 things. First, college football is not as important here as it is in the South or Midwest–but you can bet your sweet bippy that certain hometown cops would give a UConn basketball player or a star Yankees pitcher the benefit of a large doubt in a rape investigation. Second, some natives of this area do frequently view the South and Southerners as exotic and benighted (thanks a bunch, Billy Faulkner), apparently oblivious to the way in which such views display their own often narrow provincialism–a lifelong resident of NYC may be no less blinkered in world view than a lifelong resident of Toothy Gap, TN. And I think this provincialism does sometimes seep into NYT reportage. I also think Mr. Ruiz, and by extension the NYT reporter, were painting with a brush that was either too broad–if implying blame for a region–or too narrow, if implying only that region or even the locality is guilty of looking the other way when it comes to star athletes. If it happens, it’s not fair, it’s not right, and it should be stopped, regardless of where and when it happens.

  10. Spike

    Senator, you are missing my point. You are the one with the knee jerk reaction. My point is all my life I have heard from New Yorkers and others from up north how stupid, corrupt, backward we are down here in Florida( where I live). Everything up there in that paradise is bigger, better, cheaper, more efficient, more sophisticated, more advanced than anything down here. They are smarter, better, and know more than anyone down here. They even bitch about how we drive and how congested it is down here, and have the gall to bitch about how the beaches are down here and how much better they are up “noith”. If it so wonderful up there then they should keep their New York ass up there, and leave us the hell alone.

    • No, I got your point perfectly.

    • Dog in Fla

      What about New Jersey? Aren’t folks from Duke entitled to the same knee-jerk rx we have to those from New York? Where is the fairness?

    • 81Dog

      Ruiz should have stuck to “People in Tallahassee think…”

      Of course, given his admitted vast experience with the small part of the South located beyond the borders of Leon County, one can understand his desire to share his insight. I mean, he probably saw a couple of episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard while living in a 4th floor walkup as a kid in the Bronx. Guy’s practically Ken Burns, right?

      It’s stupid to generalize. I don’t think everyone in New York is a mobster or a robber baron. I’m sure there are people up there or from there who are perfectly capable of not labeling all of us who didn’t grow up reciting the Brooklyn alphabet.

  11. awreed79

    Talk about willful, gross negligence. She should sue the crap out of the university and the police department.

  12. Jack Klompus

    This blog has gone, quoting Roy Wally, “a lot haywire” today. Must be the blood moon.

  13. Jack Klompus

    Y’all need to read or reread the article.

  14. Let’s forget Tally PD apparently think football playing rapists are a good thing, and focus on THAT DAMNED YANKEE OFFENDED OUR ‘ONOR!

  15. Derek

    First, I hate to break it to y’all but police investigations suck. Pretty much top to bottom. If you don’t confess or are caught on tape, you can beat just about anything just because investigations are terrible across the board.

    Second, I don’t think anybody wants to face the fact that this particular case was handled the way it was because it’s patently absurd. Unless there was some date rape drug in her system, which apparently wasn’t looked for, I’m not buying I was so screwed up I didn’t know who I was with but I could sit comfortably on the back of a scooter while she was driven home. Keep in mind that she had a choice when her friends asked her what happened after she left the bar with three dudes. 1) I had anonymous sex while another guy filmed it and they treated me like a total pig. Or 2) I was raped. It happens. The accusation turns her from a total whore to a victim. Rape does happen and it’s a terrible thing but a lot of these accusations are false.

    • Debby Balcer

      Really a lot of these allegations are false. Unbelievable!!

      • Derek

        Example 1) mother gets drunk and aggressively and sexually pursues her son in law. Daughter finds out. Mom cries rape.
        Example 2) teenage daughter has a sleepover with friends. They get caught smoking and drinking beer. The girls upon being confronted accuse the father of molesting them.
        Example 3: three girls on the way home from school. One is late and will be in trouble. The girls decide to concoct a story about an abduction. The three girls magically pick out the same imanginary assailant who sits in jail without bond for 18 months. After the second girl testifies about the horrible things the defendant she confesses to her mother they they made it all up.
        Example 4: girl has consensual sex in boys college dorm. She arrives at her dorm early the next morning. Her friends ask her where she was. She says she was raped. The saving grace? Two people asleep on the couch during the alleged rape.

        That’s four true stories off the top of my head. A few minutes and I could give you a handful more. Sorry, but it’s true. These stories get made up to divert attention. It happens a lot.

        • Jack Klompus

          I need to take a shower after reading your last two posts.

          • Derek

            The truth can be an uncomfortable thing. Personally I never thought to kill a mockingbird was so far fetched. But maybe Harper lee just hates women.

            • Debby Balcer

              Links to support your anecdotes? I can find many more reported stories of real rapes. Sounds like you live in Peyton Place.