A pretty disturbing case came to a close in Columbus, where two former OSU football players, Amir I. Riep and Jahsen L. Wint, were acquitted by a jury of the rape and kidnapping of a 19-year-old student. The case seemed to hinge on a video of the alleged victim giving consent after the fact, even though the video seems to show her doing so through tears. She said she only did so to escape faster. (While the footage is reportedly “visually dark,” the woman can be heard saying that she’s crying and then agreeing to the question of whether the encounter was consensual.)
There are numerous aspects to this case, and even more that speak to the still festering problem of sexual assault among sports programs on campus, which our colleagues at Jezebel expertly cover. One of the more disturbing aspects of the case was the two defendants said that getting video of consent from their sexual partners was something the team and school had instructed them to do, which is horrifying.
“I’m on the football team and this is something that we just are taught to do to protect ourselves,” Amir I. Riep testified he told one of the women before recording. “It’s nothing against you.”
Riep and another witness, Lloyd McFarquhar, who was a fellow former football player at Ohio State, testified that players were instructed to procure evidence that anyone they have sex with consented to protect themselves from possible ramifications—legal, or otherwise.
An Ohio State football team spokesman, Jerry Emig, sent a statement via email to The Columbus Dispatch saying:
“In general, when the Department of Athletics speaks with student-athletes about consent, we work closely with subject matter experts on campus and follow the university’s well established Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
“You’ll see that page one of the policy defines consent as, ‘permission that is clear, knowing, voluntary, and expressed prior to engaging in and during an act. Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create mutually understandable clear permission regarding willingness to engage in (and the conditions of) sexual activity.’”
One would hope that the school would be more interested in teaching its players and all students about what consent is and what getting it entails and making everyone on campus feel safe instead of giving its football players a convenient out, but this is college football after all. So instead we get this.
We went through this with the Hockey Canada case, where the alleged victim was filmed saying she consented even though she was clearly incapable of doing so. And it was obvious that the players knew they had to have this “evidence.” Where would they have gotten that idea?
These institutions, instead of teaching young men or boys what treating women with respect and decency is or the proper way of going about sexual encounters are instead just showing them “how to get away with it.” How is this ever going to get better if they’re not taking the time to root this evil out at its source and teach everyone better? What’s even sadder is that in Columbus, shock of all shocks, it seems to have worked.