The Montana University and BYU Football Rape Cases

At the Atlantic today, I have a piece on NCAA regulations, hostess programs, and gang rape in college football. I’m supplementing that article here on Power Forward.

1: The Vanderbilt Football Rape Case

2. The Naval Academy Football Rape Cases

Neither Montana nor BYU made it into my Atlantic piece. But they could have.

First, Montana:

In 2010, a woman was reportedly raped by four University of Montana football players. Police said there was not enough evidence to press charges. Early last year, Montana’s coach and athletic director were fired, possibly for helping to minimize and/or cover up this crime. Things are so bad at that particular institution, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education are each handling their own investigation into the alleged sexual assaults by football players.

In August 2012, Bleacher Report wondered out loud about why Montana’s football program had not been punished for its staff covering up sexual assault carried out by their football players. It was finally announced in July of this year that the NCAA would be hitting Montana with sanctions but without mentioning the sexual assault and conspiracy. Instead, the sanctions are in regards to a booster paying the legal fees for two of the football players who were charged with a crime. Why?

In Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian’s The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football, they wrote

Things got so out of hand at the University of Montana that it had to conduct its own investigation into nine sexual assaults by football players between September 2010 and December 2011.

That above quote from The System is in a chapter where Benedict and Keteyian go into detail about a rape case at BYU in 2004. From a news report in December 2004 (TRIGGER WARNING):

Six freshmen players or former players will face a total of 18 felony charges in connection with the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl in August.

B.J. Mathis, Karland Bennett, William Turner Jr. and Ibrahim Rashada are charged with four felonies each — two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and one count each of obstruction of justice and dealing in material harmful to a minor.

Provo police launched an investigation after the girl reported that she went to the off-campus apartment of Bennett and Mathis on Aug. 8, watched pornography with a group of players, drank vodka with them and then, after passing out or falling asleep, woke up while being raped by three or four players.

Only two of the four went to trial: Mathis and Rashada. Both Turner and Bennett took pleas in exchange for giving testimony.

On the stand Turner said,

I feel like we shouldn’t have (done) what we did. It was wrong. We started cleaning our apartment (because) we knew we had done something that was wrong. We took advantage of a girl that we shouldn’t have.

She was in a daze. I could tell she was not fully aware — a little conscious but not fully aware.

How a local paper described Bennett’s testimony:

After leaving a 17-year-old girl alone in his bedroom, former Brigham Young University football player Karland Bennett later returned to find some of his teammates engaged in sexual activity with her, he testified Friday.

One of the teammates, B.J. Mathis, was near her head, while another, Ibrahim Rashada, was behind her. A third teammate was to the girl’s side, touching her, Bennett said.

Bennett didn’t think anything of it.

“It didn’t seem forceful. So it was none of my business,” said Bennett.

The jury acquitted both players. In their book, Benedict and Keteyian, then write some of the most devastating words I have read in a while:

Brown [the victim] was devastated. After leaving the courthouse, she collapsed and started sobbing. “They raped me. They raped me. They raped me.” She had to be carried to the car. Over the ensuing months, she became a recluse and gained seventy-five pounds. […]

After the courtroom cleared out, three jurors were still around. Kelly [the prosecuting attorney] cornered them and asked why they had acquitted. “The jury said they had suffered enough,” Kelly said. “They lost their scholarships. They were kicked off the team.” Kelly said it was the most bizarre thing she’d ever heard— the idea that the players had been sufficiently punished when they lost their opportunity to play football. “That’s the power of college football,” she said.

What do you even say to that?

Mathis and Rashada then transferred to other schools and continued to play football.