Chicago Bears draft choices leave Bears fans scratching their heads

Robert Leveille, Assistant Sports Editor

Domestic violence and sexual assault have raised red flags over professional and college athletics over the past few years, but these issues are now at the forefront of this year’s NFL draft.

Multiple players were drafted who were either currently or previously connected to domestic violence or sexual assault. Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, wide receiver DeDe Westbrook and Ohio State defensive back Gareon Conley are among these men.

In 2014, Mixon was involved in an altercation where he struck a woman. Mixon entered an Alford Plea, essentially asserting his innocence but recognizing the evidence against him would result in his being found guilty. He received a deferred sentence and was required to undergo counseling along with 100 hours of community service.

He settled the dispute with his victim in civil court for the damages accrued.  Mixon, a projected first round talent, slipped to the middle of the second round and was eventually drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Westbrook has two arrests on his record for alleged domestic violence. The first occurred in 2012, and the second in 2013. Both incidents involved the mother of his two children.

The two cases were dropped; the first by the victim and the second by the court after the victim failed to respond to court correspondence. Westbrook was drafted in the fourth round by the Detroit Lions.

Conley is the subject of an open sexual assault case. Conley has not been formally charged but has been revealed as the assailant in the victim’s statement.

It has been reported that Conley took and passed a polygraph, and that witnesses have come forward who contradict the victim’s statement. Additionally, surveillance footage has been released that also contradicts the original statement. Conley was drafted in the first round by the Oakland Raiders.

I do not condone domestic violence or sexual assault, and I think any allegation of any crime should be taken seriously. I do, however, respect the criminal justice system. Regardless of whether the punishment fits the crime, when an offender serves his punishment, he or she has the right to carry on with life. How are we supposed to reduce recidivism otherwise?

Secondly, in America you are innocent until proven guilty, and those not found guilty have the right to carry on with their lives. The Constitution affords all American citizens due process. The court of public opinion is irrelevant.

Before we cast judgment, we need to allow the justice system to carry out its process. If we condemn individuals off mere allegations, we’ll be traveling down an extremely dangerous road. Allegations are allegations until the person involved is proven innocent or guilty.

Many feel that these players do not deserve to play in the NFL and many articles have been written over the last couple of days claiming the NFL is fumbling the ball on these issues.

That decision isn’t up to us; each NFL team is its own corporation and entitled to employ whoever they desire.

 

Joyce Balash
Joyce Balash is a junior public relations/advertising major with minors in marketing and organizational communication. This is her first year as sports editor for The Flyer. She is also a member of the Lewis women’s volleyball team.

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