Friday, January 09, 2009

Sexual Assaults, Athletics and the Academy

January 9, 2009, 7:15 a.m.

The Academy and Football:
Rape and Risk Management

(Brought to you by*)

I have a number of email addresses, as you probably do, and all of them seem to attract at least some messages that are of little interest.

But the other day, into my official University of Iowa account, came the following offer of a one-hour audio program I could listen to for only $199.

The title of the presentation is "University Sports Scandals & Disasters: Keys to Minimize Liability," including "Tools for managing adverse publicity & negative PR."

I have no idea who thoughtfully included me on this email list, knowing of my interest in "Sports Scandals & Disasters" and that I would be blogging about the audio conference.

If you are new to this blog I should mention that we had a little "sports scandal" of our own at the University of Iowa in 2007 that ended up involving the governor, legislators, the Board of Regents, two investigations, the peremptory firing of two UI vice presidents, lots of media attention, and a criminal prosecution -- the current status of which, quite frankly, I don't know.

Maybe that's why this announcement was sent to -- who? The entire UI faculty and staff mailing list?

Anyhow, I thought, this has the aura of a program that's being pitched to a large number of colleges and universities.

Can it be that Iowa is not the only university with football players who team up to -- it is alleged -- rape unconscious young women?

Well, it turns out that is the good news and the bad news. The good news is that Iowa is not the only school. The bad news is that Iowa is not the only school.

Below you'll find the "agenda" for the one-hour training course -- one in which, you'll note, there is no mention of care for the alleged victims of these crimes, nor the alleged perpetrators for that matter, only the public relations inconvenience (and possible legal liability) they pose for the universities and the "strategies," "tools" and "keys" for dealing with them. (For the record, one consequence of the UI experience is a revised policy for supporting alleged victims.)

Following that is a recent story out of California that also involved two football players and an unconscious young woman. It is my practice not to refer to the names of either the accused or the alleged victims -- or in this instance, the promoters of the audio program, for it is not my purpose to add to the personal problems of any given individual. But in the California case the football players have eased the task of the prosecution somewhat by providing a videotape of their alleged crime.

The primary difference between the two cases, aside from the videotaping, is that the California football players are in jail on $100,000 bond, the former Iowa players (although charged) were permitted to transfer to other schools where they are continuing to play football.

Dear Nicholas Johnson,

Last week you were invited to join us for our industry leading 60-minute conference. I am pleased to now send for your review the conference agenda detailing this informative program:

"University Sports Scandals & Disasters: Keys to Minimize Liability"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET


Risk Awareness Essentials for Your University Athletics Department

** What are the early warning signs for potential legal liability?
** Top ten athletics risks & how your university can prevent them
** Student athlete background checks: Do's & Don'ts for your college

Risk Management Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Situations

** Best practices for effectively handling high-risk student behavior
** Strategies for disciplining university athletes
** Keys to getting management buy-in from faculty & staff

Keys for Managing Crisis within Your Athletics Department

** Tools for managing adverse publicity & negative PR
** Communication essentials during a high-risk situation
** Strategies for reporting crime & crisis at your university

Live Question and answer session-Have your Risk Management questions answered!
Just how widespread are these problems? Apparently widespread enough to warrant the sale of a national audio program on how to deal with them -- as perhaps illustrated by this January 3 story from the Los Angeles Times:

Two Santa Ana College football players . . . charged with raping and sexually assaulting a drunk or unconscious woman last summer and videotaping the crime . . . were arrested and arraigned this week in the July 2008 assault. . . . If convicted, they each face a maximum of 18 years in prison.

[One] is a running back for the Santa Ana College team, and [the other] is a wide receiver, according to the school's website.

Authorities say the men were drinking at the Key Inn hotel in the 1600 block of El Camino Real in Tustin. The 18-year-old victim, who knew the defendants through her boyfriend, came to the hotel after Lewis called her, police said.

She later passed out. Foster allegedly videotaped Clemmons and Lewis undressing the woman, positioning her body on the floor and assaulting her multiple times. . . .

Police are still investigating whether the woman was drinking and what caused her to pass out. . . .

Santa Ana College officials are "reviewing the details of the charges," college spokeswoman Nikita Flynn said. . . .
Susannah Rosenblatt, "Three men arrested in videotaped rape of unconscious woman in Orange County," Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2009.

Ah, yes, "reviewing the details." Perhaps Ms. Flynn will want to listen to the audio presentation and accept the promoters' offer to "have your risk management questions answered" while her college officials are "reviewing those details."

Golf and baseball have their seasons. Football, it seems, is always with us.

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.

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