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The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

Oklahoma Athletes Under Suspicion

Adam Banner - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Often, it seems like sports and crime go hand in hand--especially football and violent crime. The statistics do not support this theory, with the NFL having an arrest rate below that of the general population, and with the NBA being the only major professional sports league to have a higher arrest rate than the general public. Still, headlines love athletes, and when a professional athlete or even a college athlete from a big-name university is accused of wrongdoing, it quickly becomes trending news.

A couple of University of Oklahoma Sooners football players are finding out just how quickly a person may be tried and convicted in the media before any facts or evidence are disclosed in the court.

In April, reports surfaced that redshirt Junior linebacker Frank Shannon was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at his apartment after a party in January. Allegedly, Shannon offered the girl a ride home after the party, but took her to his apartment instead. He is accused of attempting to have sex with her despite her not giving consent. According to the allegations, Shannon pulled the woman's pants down and tried to initiate sex, and when she refused, became frustrated and left the room. The woman then called a friend for a ride, and the friend called police. 

In that case, the Canadian County District Attorney declined to file charges against Shannon, saying that the woman involved did not want charges filed against him and that conflicting stories and differing accounts of what transpired did not provide a clear picture of what happened that night. With one party's unwillingness to prosecute and a lack of convincing evidence, charges were never filed. Regardless, Shannon is the subject of a Title IX investigation, and many people are already convinced that he is guilty of a sexual assault, despite there being no evidence to support a charge, much less a conviction.

Now another Sooner is being tried in the court of public opinion after an alleged assault against a woman. Joe Mixon, a star freshman running back, is accused of punching a young woman in the face. The woman, 20-year-old student Amelia Molitor, says that Mixon was harassing her and her friends at a Campus Corner restaurant when he punched her once, breaking four bones in her face. Her attorney says that she has to undergo surgery for the extensive damage.

Mixon's attorney, however, tells a much different tale

"This past Friday morning Joe Mixon found himself in a situation where he was subjected to both verbal and physical attacks from a very intoxicated and troubled young woman. As a result of these physical attacks, Joe instinctually defended himself against further harm. As promised, Joe met with investigators from the Norman Police Department this afternoon. Throughout the meeting, Joe continued to be forthcoming and cooperative with their investigation. We are looking forward to a thorough investigation and are very much looking forward to the truth coming out. As we have always maintained, Joe has done nothing wrong."

In fact, his attorney is so convinced of his client's innocence and his right to defend himself against an assault by a combative and intoxicated woman, that he has asked the district attorney's office to file assault and battery charges against Molitor.

As of this writing, no warrant has been issued for anyone's arrest, and police are still investigating, questioning witnesses and reviewing surveillance video of the incident.

Being a professional or collegiate athlete certainly has its perks. Unfortunately, it can also make the athlete a target for intense scrutiny and for wrongful accusations. In neither case described here has either young man been charged with a crime. In both cases, however, the public is calling for suspension, criminal, and civil penalties to be imposed. Whether or not the allegations are proven in the long run, both athletes will have promising careers tarnished by suspicion and the taint of accusations of violence against women.






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