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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Staff Editorial

Accused, accusers deserve similar rights in investigations


By now, the average sports fan, and the general public for that matter, has heard that Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female college student.

This is the second time in his career that he’s been accused of sexual assault, counting the 2008 accusation that was dismissed. The woman in that case has a civil lawsuit pending while Roethlisberger is countersuing for defamation damages.

Most media outlets have a long-standing practice of not naming alleged victims of sexual assault or rape, and rightfully so. But where is the same protection for the alleged perpetrators, which is all that Roethlisberger is at this point?

Many states have sexual offender registry laws requiring those convicted of said crimes to make public their convictions. Those same people are often prohibited from living in certain communities or even holding certain types of jobs. Needless to say, their lives, along with the lives of their victims, are irrevocably changed.

One has to wonder why there is such a rush to judge by the media and to a greater degree, the American public? Roethlisberger’s case provides an example of why there shouldn’t be such a rush and why his name should be as protected as that of the victim. The public is already convicting him based on his previous accusation and, all of a sudden, is viewing this “behavior” as a trend.

Yet, Roethlisberger remains without a conviction on his record.

If he’s found guilty, protocol is in place to make sure the world knows about it, so waiting until then seems like the logical thing to do.

Some argue that high-profile figures who are accused of crimes can buy their way out of trouble and, at the same time, view any dismissal or out-of-court settlements as just as damning as a final conviction. At the same time, the financial status of those figures can be more than enough of a motive for false accusations, and celebrities often do settle out of court to avoid a lengthy prosecution and the media circus that accompanies it.

Ultimately, the truth gets lost along the way. Keeping these situations private would go a long way toward serving true justice or at least avoiding the double standard that the media employs.

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