Florida International infielder Garrett Wittels made headlines last year for his 56-game hitting streak. He made just as many headlines in the offseason when he and a group of friends were accused of raping two 17-year-old girls in the Bahamas. A hearing in the case has been postponed, but Wittels’ lawyer says a video from the casino will show the women were the aggressors in the case, not the men. The Miami Herald adds that the father of one of the women has been previously accused of hiring a woman to falsely claim she was raped at a sporting event for the purpose of generating money.
Regardless of the details and facts, once you’re associated with a rape case it’s hard to escape the “rapist” label. Ask the Duke lacrosse team about that. As another example, Barry Jackson shared a note in his recent column for The Herald that shows the way Wittels is perceived by some opponents:
According to an FIU official, when FIU and Baylor players lined up after a game, a Baylor player said, “I don’t shake the hands of a rapist.” His attorneys hope surveillance video will help vindicate Wittels and two other friends charged.
Baylor and FIU played on March 15th, so this happened a while ago but it was never reported (anywhere that I saw). Rape is an extremely serious subject that we treat with care, concern, and caution. Because it’s so sensitive and serious we also frown upon anyone who makes up charges. I’m glad that more details have emerged because they seem to clear Wittels’ name. It’s unfortunate that a player would label him and refuse to shake his hand based on an accusation with no proof.