Praise Martin-Oguike, 20, once had one of the most inspiring stories of a young Nigerian raised by a pastor father and poet mother who went to college in the United States and achieved acclaim on the football field for Temple. That all came crashing down when a Temple business student accused him of rape. He was arrested, stripped of his scholarship, suspended from Temple, and denounced nationally as a football thug. The problem is that he appears entirely innocent. After emails were revealed from the woman indicating that she made up the allegations, all charges were dropped. However, prosecutors have not moved to arrest the woman whose name continues to be withheld in media stories as a presumed sex crime victim. His name of course was always public as a presumed sex criminal.
The lawyers for Martin-Oguike moved to have the court consider the woman’s text messages between friends to show that she lied about being raped. They argued that the woman had been rejected by several other men, including football players, and did not want to get a campus reputation as a football “groupie.” She allegedly accused Martin-Oguike after he “would not agree to have a romantic long-term relationship with her.” One message shows the woman texted a friend about another sexual encounter two weeks before the alleged rape and remarking about his being well-endowed: “I couldn’t deal I was like screaming so much that he put a pillow in my mouth.”
Praise Martin-Oguike, 18, was charged May 31 with forcible rape, false imprisonment and related offenses. The woman said that she had first met the football player when she was moving into a new apartment with her mother and that he raped her when she accepted his invitation to visit him in his dorm. She called a friend and said that she had been raped. He texted her several times apologizing for the incident but denying that he had done anything wrong. However, in a text that likely sealed the matter for the police, he asked “Are you going to press charges?” The defense suggested that this question was always a response to her threats and not to any rape.
My concern is that, if these emails show that the allegation was false, why has not the prosecutor shown equal vigor in pursuing the woman? False rape charges undermine the real problem of rape at colleges and universities.
I have previously discussed the pattern of prosecutors in either not charging false rape victims or seeking relatively light sentences despite the incarceration of innocent men. (here, here, here, here, here, and here).
Perhaps the most infamous refusal to charge such a case involved Crystal Gale Mangum, 33, the stripper who falsely accused members of the Duke lacrosse team. She became a national celebrity as activists warned that anything but long criminal sentences would be proof of racism by the prosecutors. Durham D.A. Mike Nifong joined this lynch mob atmosphere despite the absence of forensic evidence to support the claim of rape. When he was removed and the lie was exposed however North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper refused to prosecute Mangum, who ruined the lives of these students and triggered racial tensions in the region. Cooper simply let her walk in a disgraceful but politically expedient decision.
In this case, the career and life of the student was destroyed by the allegation. I can understand the absence of a criminal charge if the prosecutor is still uncertain. However, the record was clear enough to drop all charges and the news account seems in conflict with the account of the woman. The prosecutors would only say that “Upon further investigation it was determined there was not enough evidence to proceed to trial.” It seems to me that a bit more of an explanation is needed not only on the absence of any investigation into allegedly false statements but also whether the prosecutors were aware of these text messages before bringing the charges.
This result was brought about by some good defense work by Martin-Oguike’s attorney James Funt.