Temple Football Player Cleared After Being Charged With Rape, Stripped of Scholarship, Thrown Out Of College, And Publicly Ostracized

20120605_praisemartin_oguikePraise 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.”

Temple-linebacker-charged-with-on-campus-rape-6C1K54RK-x-largePraise 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.

48 thoughts on “Temple Football Player Cleared After Being Charged With Rape, Stripped of Scholarship, Thrown Out Of College, And Publicly Ostracized”

  1. Women commonly report false rapes. Oddly enough most real rapes go unreported.

    I am at the point that I am now skeptical anytime a rape is reported and that is sad.

    But, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

  2. RogerJ, It will take, persistence, and patience to reach that middle. The pendulum was just starting to swing back from the dark ages in the 1970’s. I was an investigator for the KC prosecutor’s office. I worked closely w/ the rape crisis center, which was new. The feminist movement was a part of getting the pendulum swung back to the victim’s side. However, it moved rapidly and became political, instead of legal. That’s why we moved right past the middle to where we are now, w/ men too often being the victim. The press is too PC to be comfortable w/ stories like this. IMO that is the biggest impediment in finding that righteous sweet spot in the middle. W/O the press, this will move slowly, or not @ all. The Duke case was what I thought would get us moving, but it’s going @ a snail’s pace. It’s an ugly subject. People tend to turn away from ugly, when what is needed is for the press and public to meet this serious problem head on, honestly, and w/o PC.

  3. It seems that we have now reached the opposite point on the pendulum’s swing in which, instead of ignoring the woman’s accusation, we treat it as fact until disproved. It is a distressing feature of our society that we do not seem to be able to reach a middle ground in which the accusation is taken seriously but the rights of both parties are respected until the investigation is concluded and the judicial system has rendered a verdict.

  4. Mike:
    Det. Olivia Benson is an actress..not a detective.

    True. But Mariska Hargitay, who plays her is a womens’ rights activist, and who very explicitly supports that very statement of Det Benson.

    It is no accident the character she play said that. You can be sure the actress would refuse to say something she didn’t agree with in her activist efforts.

    1. “It is no accident the character she play said that. You can be sure the actress would refuse to say something she didn’t agree with in her activist efforts.”

      Gary,

      I have no problem with using the words. In context though it seemed like the words on the show were offered as a real life example of the law. I love many TV dramas for instance, but I don’t use “24” or “Breaking Bad” or “Boardwalk Empire” to inform my opinions.

  5. It’s valid to criticize prosecutors who fail to charge women who make false accusations, but remember two things:

    (1) Most rape allegations ARE true, the number of fakes are miniscule, probably 1 in 100 or less. Rabid prosecutors who take shortcuts to get convictions are unlikely to admit their own mistakes and misconduct, which would be exposed if the accuser were exposed (re: the Duke lacrosse rape case), and the scumbags’ careers threatened.

    (2) A large number of women who are raped never get justice because the pi…uh, cops abuse the women a second time, browbeating them into recanting and not pressing charges. And many prosecutors are lazy, and consider rape to be an “unimportant” crime. There are an estimated 400,000 rape kits in evidence in the US which have never been tested, many of which could be matched against growing DNA databases, but nobody wants to do it.

    http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/22247-400-000-untested-rape-kits-nonprofits-take-the-issue-on.html

    “Law enforcement agencies say the number one reason they don’t process kits is lack of resources. I would say, in my observations, that the number one reason is less about resources than will and the continued deficiencies in the way that law enforcement in a lot of jurisdictions treat sexual assault cases,”
    – Sarah Tofte, director of policy and advocacy at the Joyful Heart Foundation and author of the 2009 Human Rights Watch Report on untested rape kits in Los Angeles County

    http://www.hrw.org/node/81826

  6. I can’t tell from the available stories how strong the evidence is that she lied. I am very uncomfortable with the suggestion that an e-mail indicating she enjoyed sex with someone else two weeks before somehow suggests she lied, and that was the only specific message I saw. (I am not overly familiar with the underlying facts, so you there may be something that makes this message relevant that I don’t see) In concept, I agree that criminal penalties are appropriate for false claims of rape. However, how do you do that without giving another strong weapon to those who would abuse: “They won’t believe you, and lock you up as a liar if you report it.” Anytime a suspect is not prosecuted or a defendant is acquitted, do we put the alleged victim on trial and let the jury sort it out? Seems like that would drastically lower the number of reports all around, not just those that are false. I am not discounting the harm done to defendants falsely accused, or suggesting that action is not needed in that regard, but its not like there is some easily discerned bright line separating “legitimate claims of rape” from false ones.

  7. Mike Spindell: “Um……Er…….Law and Order SUV is a television show”

    Mike, That still doesn’t detract from the fact that this is the attitude that people have about this problem. Simply because it appears on TV doesn’t invalidate the reality of the situation.

  8. “I was watching a Law and Order SUV and my mouth fell open when the character Det. Olivia Benson said something like this (paraphrased) “SUV…where a victim’s word isn’t good enough. You need evidence.” WHAT!? Incredulous.”

    Um……Er…….Law and Order SUV is a television show….as in fiction….it is not a documentary news program. Det. Olivia Benson is an actress..not a detective.

  9. “There really need to be penalties for this sort of thing.”

    Yep. I understand the need for anonymity when it’s a legitimate claim of sexual abuse or rape, OS, but the manifest injustice perpetrated (usually in the court of public opinion) when those claims are put false needs better remedy at bar and in the press. When someone is cleared of such charges, their false accuser should not only get the pointed end of the legal stick for their duplicitous efforts (in the form of jail time and civil damages), I think the media should make just as big a deal of it as they do when someone is legitimately charged. It’s not just a failure of the law that creates this kind of injustice, but a failure of the 4th Estate as well.

  10. I have worked on a number of cases where there were false allegations of child sexual abuse. Those most often happen during bitter custody battles. A friend of mine, now retired, made an excellent living as a private investigator for many years specializing in false allegations of sex abuse. Most of those involved child custody, but many were extortion attempts.

    Some were revenge, like the high school student who accused her math teacher of fondling her breasts when she was held after school for misbehaving. The defense attorney confronted her with a note she had written to friends that she was going to “get” the teacher for keeping her after school. During cross, she had an enraged meltdown when he forced her to identify the note. Jury was out less than fifteen minutes, returning a ‘not guilty’ verdict. Yet, it ruined the teacher’s career. No school district would hire him.

    A friend of mine had something similar happen to him. He was a scientist who worked for the Army. A young woman still in her teens tried to seduce him. He rejected her and it made her mad. When he was accused, he lost his security clearance and his job. He became massively depressed, and put a bullet through his head earlier this year. He was 55 years old. The girl moved away, with no penalties whatsoever.

    There really need to be penalties for this sort of thing.

  11. There seems to be a story every week where a guy is/was falsely accused of rape. Usually they serve years in prison. I was watching a Law and Order SUV and my mouth fell open when the character Det. Olivia Benson said something like this (paraphrased) “SUV…where a victim’s word isn’t good enough. You need evidence.” WHAT!? Incredulous.

    Sometimes those lies can be turned into millions, too. Wanetta Gibson, the false accuser in the Brian Banks case, was just ordered to pay $2.6 million. Can’t find where she got any jail time. I would send her to prison for twice the amount of time Banks served.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/05/ex-football-player-breaks-down-after-rape-charge-dismissed.html

    Note to JT: Can you please fix this as the links don’t work…”despite the incarceration of innocent men. (here, here, here, here, here, and here).”

  12. I wonder how many men are in prison and have had their lives ruined because of some female who falsely accused them of rape.

  13. After years of the victim being victimized by the judicial system and press, the pendulum has swung. And, until that pendulum swings back to the middle, more young men like this will become the victims. Unfortunately, that is too often the way the world works.

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