TRIGGER WARNING: This post is about sexual assault. I do use direct and explicit quotes from the official police report regarding the sexual assault that Greg Dent has been charged with.
It was with a heavy hear that I woke up this morning to find out that Florida State Seminoles receiver, Greg Dent has been charged with second-degree sexual assault on a person over the age of 12. In a hearing Monday morning, he was assigned a $15,000 bond with the stipulation that he would have no contact with the victim. The victim is a long-time family friend of Dent. According to the official police report out of Tallahassee, FL, the victim reported that she was lying in bed with Dent (a normal occurrence) when he kept trying to kiss her. She told him, “No” twice but Dent kept attempting to kiss her. After she physically forced him off the bed, Dent returned fully naked and attempted to rape her. He became “very aggressive in touching the victim” and Dent “was able to partially penetrate the victim’s vagina with his penis.” After another physical altercation with him, the woman was able to escape and contact authorities. As for Dent, he could face up to 15 years in prison and while Florida State has made no official statement, it is university policy that any athlete facing felony charges be suspended.
It grieves me to read this as a Florida State alumnus, but more so because I am so fearful of what this could turn into. I am afraid that given the hero-worship culture of football players at Florida State, people will hear of this story and make excuses for Dent. Coming from FSU, I know how much our town and campus loves FSU football, and there is nothing wrong with that. In college I loved tailgating, going to games, and cheering on the Garnet and the Gold. But there is a massive problem when people care more about making sure our players are on the field no matter what as if the rules and laws do not apply to them. Think back to the Steubenville rape case and how the town’s obsession with football led to death threats against the victim because they told her that she was going to cost the town 2 star football players. In these situations, all some people seem to care about is that the victims are tarnishing the name of the athletes, they do not care that players have been accused of raping or sexually assaulting someone. Steubenville was a high school team – this is Florida State University football. I can only imagine what could happen with this. It is still early in the fall out of this tragic story but already people are making disgusting and outrageous comments regarding this incident. One commenter on the Orlando Sentinel actually said:
While this may seem like a crazy person out on the fringe of society, unfortunately this mentality is a lot more prevalent than some of us want to think. First of all, people are accusing the victim of lying. While the statistics are hard to compile given all the factors, most researchers agree that the rate of false accusations of rape are anywhere between 2%-8%. To read the police report, to hear of what Dent is being accused of and think, “The victim is lying” is unbelievably problematic as it is statistically inaccurate and more importantly perpetuates this idea that someone like Greg Dent can’t be a rapist or sexual assaulter. Yes he can. The second someone becomes a rapist or sexual assaulter is when the victim says the words, “No” and the perpetrator ignores it. It doesn't matter what the situation is, what the victim was wearing, or if they had previously had sexual relations; the moment the victim verbally told Dent, “No” and he decided to ignore it, he committed sexual assault.
I am afraid people are going to use this idea that because Dent was a nice guy, he couldn't have sexually assault someone. The fact is most rapes are done by men who the victim would consider a friend or acquaintance. This idea that all rapists or sexual assaulters are hooded guys in the alley way at night that have this anonymous face that we can fight by pulling a Wolverine with our keys is simply not true. A rapist isn’t often someone who fits this profile for a scary guy lurking the shadows who has no name, it usually is a friend or significant other pursues sexual activity after the victim has said no.
In this situation, my heart broke. My heart broke for the victim who has a long and hard road ahead of her for something she didn’t cause, my heart broke for a city that I am afraid will blame the victim because of their love and obsession with a sport and its players, and my heart broke for a culture that taught a young man that he was above the law which influenced his decision to sexually assault a woman. I pray that God watches over this situation and brings healing and grace to all of those involved. Yes, I do have sympathy for Dent. But let me be clear as I was with the Steubenville Rape Case: While I believe that all of us need and are entitled to grace for our sins, that doesn’t mean that Dent should not be held responsible for the consequences of his actions. He ultimately chose to ignore the victim’s verbal response of, “No” when he was attempting to push himself on her, and he should not get a pass because he is a football player. We all need God’s grace and we can feel sympathy for him. We need to see that we can empathize with Dent, but the young woman attacked is truly the one that our attention, love, and compassion should be aimed towards. With that in mind, we should all keep everyone involved in our prayers.
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
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