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How Derrick Rose & his legal team are only damning themselves with their actions.

In late June, Derrick Rose transitioned from being the beloved Chicago son who played for his hometown team to a basketball player on a redemption tour. The moment Rose’s trade from the Bulls to the New York Knicks was announced, the narrative about his career flipped. Oft-injured, beset by the idea of never living up to his 2011 MVP potential. Now he was given second life in New York, according to the narrative – renewed life as a basketball player who was now part of a “super team” with Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah & Kristaps Porzingis.

The other narrative, the one that somehow has become largely ignored in a 24/7 media vacuum is the civil suit that hangs over his head. The suit, filed by Jane Doe last August alleges Rose and two other men, Rose’s childhood friend Randall Hampton & Ryan Allen, brother of NBA guard Tony Allen drugged her, trespassed in her apartment and gang raped her while she was unconscious.

In the wake of Darren Sharper receiving an 18-year prison sentence for drugging and raping women across multiple states, the questions of rich athletes and sexual assault have arisen once more. “He’s rich, why would he need to do such a thing?” It’s hero worship of the worst degree. It’s essentially elevating currency above human decency and morality. And Rose’s legal team and handlers are making certain that the media is just as culpable in discrediting Jane Doe as Rose’s team is.

One of the initial TMZ headlines about the case read, “Derrick Rose Accuser Consented to Group Sex… Mad Over Sex Toy”. Another today from TMZ reads, “Derrick Rose To Rape Accuser: “You’re No Prude You Hooked Up With Nick Young”. The case itself has largely disappeared from major news outlets, especially those in sports media.

Why?

Rose’s Defense Is Less About Proving His Innocence Than Blaming His Victim

High-profile athletes and sexual assault cases have a tricky history in media. The celebrity spectrum tells us that these men are far more important, far more credible and have far more to lose than their accusers. Kobe Bryant famously slid under the microscope in 2003 after he allegedly raped a woman in Eagle, Colorado. The case was thrown out due to Bryant’s accuser refusal to testify in the case. Much like Rose, Bryant stated that he and his accuser had consensual sex. In Rose’s case, he and his accuser were to alleged to have had an sexual relationship from 2011 to 2013. Due to that history, Rose and his legal team have helped paint the woman as “sexually aggressive and adventurous” and have dismissed the rape case as “extortion from a with whom she was in a long-term nonexclusive consensual sexual relationship.”

The idea of privacy for the accuser has been brought up on numerous occasions by Rose’s legal team. To them, posting images of yourself in what someone could perceive as “sexually suggestive” photos on Instagram is grounds that your identity should be made public. Accusing her of sleeping with Young, a Los Angeles Lakers forward is also another form of intimidation and rape culture at large. To create the idea that a woman, who may have slept with two basketball players is asking to be raped while unconscious by three men is deplorable.

Rose’s comments during his deposition have been equally if not even more damning to his credibility. He and Jane Doe’s relationship ended in 2013 after he had continually suggested that she participate in group sex, according to court documents.

derrick rose deposition

The statements regarding the night in question from Rose have given far more awareness towards the case than anything else.

“We men. You can assume. Like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1:00, there’s nothing to talk about.” – Derrick Rose

On August 27, Jane Doe and Rose spoke through texts about her wanting him to come back to her apartment, alone. Rose consented to this but also brought Allen & Hampton. After a series of calls & texts from Rose to Jane Doe went without response from 2:05 AM to 2:53 AM, it is alleged by the accuser that Rose & company went inside the apartment and slept with the woman. According to court documents, Rose didn’t mention to Hampton or Allen why they were going to Jane Doe’s apartment.

From the June 17 deposition:

Q: Did either Mr. Hampton or Mr. Allen tell you why they wanted to go to Plaintiff’s home on the night in question?

Rose: No. No.

Q: So they just said, ‘Hey, it’s the middle of the night. Let’s go over to Plaintiff’s house’ and they never gave you a reason why they wanted to go over there?’

Rose: No, but we men. You can assume.

Q: I’m sorry?

Rose: I said we men. You can assume. Like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1:00, there’s nothing to talk about.

Q: All right. Is there — within what you just reviewed in those text messages, is there anything within them that would lead you to believe that plaintif wanted to have sex with you and the other two defendants on August 26th, 2013?

Rose: No.

The Lack Of Media Empathy

Nowhere in any of Rose’s texts to Jane Doe is there a mention of consensual sex. Nowhere in Rose’s texts is there an acknowledgement that anyone other than Rose would be at the apartment. And as opposed to clearing Rose’s name of any wrongdoing, his legal team is attempting to maintain a cover that Rose was justified in his actions. Because of a previously established consensual relationship.

Which is wrong.

Consent is the big issue that looms over this case and Rose’s own testimony among other actions has put him in a position where he’s already down twenty in a blowout loss. There’s more emphasis pointed towards his guilt from his own party than Jane Doe herself. Using the media as a tactic for “slut-shaming” only implies the idea that she “asked for it” given that there was the purchase of a sex belt during their relationship.

Media complicity in cases such as these has loomed large. Not only destroying the credibility of the athlete’s accuser but propping up the accused on a pedestal. Juicy, salacious headlines make for great copy and workplace discussions. They do not, however, take cases such as sexual assault or domestic violence seriously. Or in the aftermath of such incidents, a general sense of apathy until the next controversial case rolls around.

Ben Roethlisberger was accused of raping two women, one in 2009 and another in 2010. Both cases were settled out of court and Roethlisberger’s only punishment was a reduced suspension from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Greg Hardy’s domestic violence case only led to the NFL to create a “No More” ad campaign after photos and court documents revealed the physical & emotional abuse he dealt to his accuser. New York Giants kicker Josh Brown was suspended for one game after his ex-wife revealed police documents saying he had physically abused her over 20 times.

Currently, there’s more credence given towards Colin Kaepernick & numerous other NFL players protesting of the national anthem from fans and talking heads than these issues. While Brown’a alarming domestic violence record went largely unchecked by the usually hardline Giants front-office, Kaepernick’s shared beliefs with many across the country ended up a sound byte from everyone. Why not both? Why shrug one issue and zero-in on another if you’re the National Football League? Or any sports league? Shaping public discourse is also aiding rape culture. To many, men who get paid handsomely for boyhood games are our heroes, our moral compasses on the playing field of right and wrong.

Less than 1% of accused rapists will ever spend a day in jail according to RAINN. It always brokers down to a question of he said, she said with credibility being the prize. Image, prestige, all of the buzzwords you can think of in regards to celebrity exist. If any bout of malfeasance arrives, there’s more rallying around the accused than the accuser – before the facts arrive.

Derrick Rose is a member of the New York Knicks, the most publicly scrutinized team in the NBA due to geography and media market. Until he proves his innocence, his guilt only seems more visible by the day. Training camp for the Knicks begins in less than two weeks.

I doubt a member of the New York media will ask Rose about this, even if it’s just as important as his upcoming season of redemption on the court.

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