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Simple Precautions Athletes Can Take to Protect Themselves from False Sexual Assault Allegations

In the wake of the recent “non-allegations” against Colin Kaepernick, it is quite clear that even the most remote implication that an athlete committed a sexual assault can have serious ramifications for a career. After all, an athlete’s career is about more than what they do in the game. Millions of dollars can be gained or lost on endorsements. One’s popularity can determine one’s salary. If the fans lose faith in an athlete, so do marketing companies and the team as well because fans buy tickets.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that time after time, while athletes are enjoying themselves and the wealth that their popularity has brought them, they make key mistakes that lead to false sexual assault allegations. I say false because it’s pretty easy to avoid true allegations. Don’t sexually assault anyone and there will be no true allegations. That being said, many people mistakenly believe there is nothing to do to avoid false allegations. While an athlete may not be able to avoid all false allegations, they can take steps to avoid the vast majority of them or at least quickly demonstrate their innocence so that fans and financial backers are not left with a lingering question of, “Did he or didn’t he?"

The biggest thing an athlete can do to protect himself is to avoid groupies. Gentleman, women that spend time with you just because you are rich and famous are trouble waiting to happen. The sad thing is, if such women cannot get your attention in a positive way, they will get it in negative way. Meaning, if you decide you no longer want to spend time with a groupie or you do not want a long term relationship her, she may decide it’s time for Plan B. The most predatory of groupies will not walk away simply with bragging rights with her girlfriends or empty handed. She will want to get paid and some want to be (in)famous as well. The less time an athlete spends with people like this, the better. We know it’s one of the perks of being rich and famous but it’s also where many athletes find themselves in danger of losing it all. The best thing an athlete can do is to spend his time with women that also have something to lose. Other rich and famous people are less likely to be out for a payday because it makes them look bad as well. Other rich and famous people are much more likely to be discrete.

For those that decide they want to live dangerously and continue to enjoy “groupie love,” recording devices are the next best option. The athlete should set up recording devices and warn guests that they are being recorded even in the bedroom. That way, if a woman later makes a false allegation, the athlete will have video and audio evidence to prove he did nothing. One might ask, why aren’t witnesses enough? Well, many of the athletes who have found themselves falsely accused, have had witnesses. Those witnesses are not the most reliable, however, because they tend to be the athlete’s buddies and/or bodyguards. Those types of people are considered biased because they have a close relationship with the athlete and/or are on the athlete’s payroll. What else are they going to say but he did not do it? Oftentimes, they are not in the room to observe whatever sexual act takes place and whether it involves consent, so one can argue the buddies or bodyguards were not really witnesses at all.

Another possibility, though not as strong in proving the athlete’s innocence, is to have the person sign a written waiver form on camera. This will be very difficult for a prosecutor to overcome because there is a written consent to have sexual relations. This is also something the athlete’s publicist can emphasize in proclaiming the athlete’s innocence. A downside to the written waiver form is that she can claim she withdrew consent. Under California law, a person has the right to withdraw consent. It’s not a very strong case for a prosecutor when the person consented and then withdrew the consent but an athlete’s primary concern is not just in avoiding conviction. His concern is also avoiding the stigma that comes with the accusation. If the athlete can show that this is just another gold digger out to make a name for herself, the athlete can come out relatively unscathed.

One may argue, where is the romance in recording sexual encounters and getting waiver forms. Well, you can use your imagination about the recording but we would recommend keeping them in a secure location lest the athlete run into the embarrassment of having them released to the public. In terms of the rest, gentleman, let’s not kid ourselves here. If the athlete was looking for romance, a groupie is not the place to find it. Famous athletes are playing not just in the big leagues professionally but personally as well and need to behave accordingly. With a few prophylactic measures, athletes can save their freedom and protect their earning potential.

(c) 2014 Washington & Associates

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