Ohio State Rape Case Could Be the Next Steubenville

In the wake of Steubenville, activists urged folks to remember that the small town's tragic assault investigation wouldn't be the last to involve athletes and for proof, one needs to look no further than Ohio State University, where a reported rape involves three current and former players for the college's star football team.

According to an 18-year-old university student, she was at a party on October 21 when she decided to walk home with two Buckeyes football players. She was romantically interested in one of them; the other was his roommate. Once she reached their dorm room, she began to "fool around" with the student she was interested in, and they both took off their clothes in the dark. But she then heard his roommate say, "let me get in on this," and he appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and began touching her sexually as well. She expressed her discomfort and went to the bathroom, but the roommate followed her in and began kissing her, eventually forcing her to perform a sexual act on him. Afterward, a third football player came into the room and offered her a place to stay; she said yes and reported the rape a month later on November 10.

The investigation recently began taking a larger shape when university police named three former and current Buckeyes players in a March 12 search warrant. Authorities believe that there is cell phone content on one player's phone which could produce leads and evidence in the case.

Previously, one player was interviewed on February 22 about the situation, but denied all claims made by the victim. He said he walked home with the victim alone, and that she had "jumped on top of him and started to kiss him," at which point he claims to have left the room because he felt guilty about a girlfriend he had at home. Upon returning, he claims he found her in bed with his roommate.

There are still many unsolved pieces in the case: one of the three men no longer plays for the football team or enjoys enrollment within the college, and there is no number for the young man's girlfriend mentioned prior. Police successfully obtained the suspect's cell phone but refuse to state if they found evidence on it. However, perhaps the greatest question is why the investigation has commenced only now. If a rape was reported to the police and media in November, why would evidence collection occur in March? If the victim knew who was involved, why weren't they questioned until February?

It's a little strange that smack-dab in the middle of an undefeated OSU football season a rape involving three football players went strangely under-investigated, and that earlier, local coverage of the story was removed from the Internet. OSU, when contacted about the rape case, admitted that there is a "misconduct" allegation being investigated but will not reveal more details. None of the involved men have been identified and no next steps have been outlined, nor have the outcomes of the investigation been stated publicly. Despite a report of rape, there has been no information about an impending case or charges raised.

As details in this case come to light, it will be important that we watch closely just as we did last time. It's important that we take all opportunities to stop rape, apprehend rapists, and educate campus communities - and leaders on sexual assault. And it's important that we ensure investigations are carried out correctly, no matter who is involved and when rape occurs.

Sports culture will take time to change. But in the meantime, justice doesn't shouldn't have a waiting period.

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Carmen Rios

Carmen splits her time disparately between feminist rabble-rousing, writing, public speaking, and flower-picking. You can read more of her work at Autostraddle and THE LINE Campaign blog (where she also serves as Managing Editor).

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