Sunday, August 03, 2014

Assailant given third chance

Less than a month ago I wrote about the prospect of former Oregon basketball player, Brandon Austin, being recruited by a school--the third of his collegiate career. Austin started at Providence College, was dismissed from that team for sexual assault then went to Oregon where he committed sexual assault again--in the form of a gang rape with other team members--and was again dismissed. Criminal charges were not filed in either case. And now he is going to a junior college in Florida to play ball. As I noted last month he was being wooed by a school in Kansas, but that school opted not to make him an offer.
Northwest Florida State College did. And administrators--unlike those at Oregon who claim ignorance--know of Austin's past. And they think they can help him. Said the head coach: "We have the experience, support and resources to help Brandon get back on track towards graduating and help him be a successful student athlete on and off the court."
We see professional athletes passed around teams after committing various crimes and misdemeanors. And though some of us know that this happens in intercollegiate athletics, there is less visibility. But I argue that there is more liability--for the school that takes on these athletes. Even if athletes such as Austin are not criminally charged, they have been disciplined by their schools (i.e., kicked off or suspended from teams). If the new school knows of that history and that athlete again commits sexual assault what kind of case would a victim have? It probably depends on the measures the school takes when the student arrives on campus. What kind of resources and support will Austin receive in Florida? Individual therapy? Group therapy? How is the school going to specifically address his history of sexual violence against women? Studies show that the many campus sexual assaults are committed by repeat offenders. Austin has already shown himself to be a repeat offender. Unless Northwest Florida intervenes and tries to break this pattern, I think they put themselves in danger of being partially responsible if Austin offends again.