This is pretty disturbing... [LOCKED]

Submitted by keep_em_honest on August 20th, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Not sure what to think of this...and I can't believe I haven't heard of this before now.

The gist is Brendan Gibbons allegedly raped a girl at a party of few years ago and his roommate (Taylor Lewan) tried to intimidate her.

[Locked pending review. ~BM]

[Unlocked for now. FWIW, this issue is not new. It was vetted years ago. ~BM]

[Locked again. All ground has been covered, and I'm not babysitting this thing all night. Buckeye troll got what he wanted, but now we move on. Others may unlock at their own peril. Also, I remember now why I quit modding. ~BM]


MI Expat NY

August 20th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

The alternate is equally unfair.  Great Britain has famously stringent libel laws that favor the public persona.  Lance Armstrong won a case for libel because the paper couldn't "prove" he had cheated.  We've seen how that turned out...  As defamation laws have a chilling effect on free speach, it's not surprising which harm this country is more accepting of.  

Fuzzy Dunlop

August 20th, 2013 at 4:54 PM ^

You are wrong, but don't let that stop you from doubling down!

First, you seem to think that if you accuse someone of a crime without their being previously convicted in a court of law constitutes libel.  That is insanely incorrect.  If what you say is true, it is not libel, whether or not the person has been convicted.  Moreover, the standard for proving truth in a civil action is only preponderance of the evidence, whereas to convict someone of a crime they need to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second, as another poster has noted, where the plaintiff is a public figure he needs to prove that the person making the statement acted with actual malice, knowing that the statement was untrue when made.  As a practical matter, that makes it virtually impossible for someone in Gibbons position to win a libel action such as this.

But whatever, you read a dictionary definition.  You are totally qualified to give legal advice.


August 20th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

I found this part especially disturbing:

"Shortly after the woman reported the rape, she began to receive threats from Gibbons roommate and fellow football player, Taylor Lewan (now an All-American), that he would rape her again if she pressed charges against Gibbons. 

The threats were reported by two other football players to the Office of Student Affairs who reported them to the University police"


So two other football players reported Lewan


August 20th, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

Thank you. How the [email protected]&% could "two football players told on Lewan" be more disturbing than the possibility that one of our football players raped someone and that another player tried to threaten the victim?

Oh boy, I'm really upset by the fact that someone's friend ratted him out for threatening a girl with rape!....what?!

Am I misunderstanding something?


Monocle Smile

August 20th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

The author does have attachments with real documents, but he also makes several factual errors and has no citation for backing up the claim that two other football players reported the threats. I won't go so far as to say it didn't happen, but Douglas Smith's credibility is a bowling ball on a thin stilt at this point.


August 20th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

When the archives go as far back as June 2013 but they are writing about an incident that occured almost 4 years ago it comes off like they are trying to get exposure by bringing up something negative about a very popular thing in Washtenaw county. Now that doesn't mean that it isn't true, but it's posted a few weeks before a season is about to begin and it really starts to feel like the the site is trying to take advantage of a very bad situation.


August 20th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

It's better to just leave it up so conspiracy types don't get all conspiracy about things. We'll probably have to lock it once people start threatening each other with e-cannons, but for now it'll be open. 

We have a legal system that presumes innocence for a reason. Gibbons wasn't charged, let alone convicted. I understand that can be a difficult decision, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for the argument that this was covered up. A rape allegation is extremely damaging--see the end of this article, which presumes guilt--and the level at which that should be publicized is leveling a legal charge.


August 20th, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

As with almost all of these cases, we don't know what happened.

Pressing charges in a sexual assault case is not for the faint of heart, but being wrongly accused of sexual assault is terrible too.

Moral of the story:  I don't think we can come to any conclusions, and we should reserve the possibility of sympathy for all sides. 

Colin M

August 20th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

I agree. I'd only add that it seems like a lot of people have the impression that false rape accusations are commonplace (I don't think you're saying that). That's not really supported by any evidence. If anything, vastly more rapes go unreported/unprosecuted than are falsely reported.

That said, the guy at Washtenaw Watchdog completely overreached when he calls Gibbons a rapist even though it hasn't been proven. Extremely unethical, IMO.



August 20th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

It happened to me on campus at the end of 1988. Police tracked me down after two weeks because I tried to get in touch with the girl again. They interviewed me, her, her friends, her past growing up in Miami. 3 weeks later (just before x-mas and finals) they met with me and informed me that the D.A. was not going to press charges because her friends corroborated my story and her past indicated similar accusations. They advised me to take more precautions when hooking up with drunk and horny ladies.

She threw herself all over me at a frat party and begged me to take her home. Luckily her friends were with her and witnessed her behavior, but she was evidently so hammered that she woke up the next morning and screamed rape.

I did nothing wrong other than using poor judgement in hooking up with someone who was too drunk. If anybody was raped it was me that night. And once again, her roommate was in the room and like the other girls out with her that night, the roommate also corroborated my side.

But it screwed me and my finals studying, and there's sort of a guilt by association, like "you must be sort of guilty if you were even accused." No! Not guilty at all! Just false accusations pure and simple.

It sucked big time.

So whenever I hear a story about this sort of  thing, whether it be Kobe, Tyson, or Gibbons, I always give them the benefit of the doubt.


August 20th, 2013 at 4:34 PM ^

Kobe wasn't? Check your facts. Kobe's case was dropped. He later settled a civil suit. Nothing criminal. And I don't necessarily think settling a civil case means guilt. Many times people/parties settle just to be done with the constant he said/she said. And Kobe could write a check no problem.

Tyson is another story. I'm not saying he was innocent, i'm just saying that when the allegations initially came out, before anything was decided, I gave them the benefit of the doubt - just like our legal system does.


August 20th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

To be exonerated requires an investigation that finds no evidence of wrongdoing (maybe even: an investigation that does find evidence establishing that there was no wrongdoing). You were investigated and exonerated, according to your account. Kobe was not exonerated. Gibbons was not exonerated. Their innocence or guilt remains in question. Yours, by your account, does not.

Colin M

August 20th, 2013 at 3:22 PM ^

They're not mutually exclusive and that wasn't my point. Your hypothetical is possible, but not supported by the available statistics. 

My point was that actual rape is a much bigger problem than the miniscule incidence of false reports. I was simply pushing back against the narrative that men requently have their lives ruined by predatory jezebels. 


August 20th, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

If you are going to support your argument condeming Gibbons with references to "statistics" please cite.  Think about bias when looking at who performed these "studies", and why peer review and the scientific method is important in research.  Also think about how reluctanct people are to come to the defense of accused "rapist" when making your argument, or publish any research suggesting that false rape accusations are a problem in society.

This article is a perfect example, in my legal opinion, of why laws were created against libel. When an article with defamatory overtones is published, a news source may be guilty of libel in a civil trial if they acted negligently. Negligence being defined here as not using standard journalistic procedures to investigate both sides of the story.  If a jury believes the story is untrue, by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more likely untrue than not, it is my understanding that the writer of the this story and his employer may held liable for damages; and enhanced damages if malicious intent is demonstrated.


August 20th, 2013 at 2:25 PM ^

supposedly discussed 3 years ago.  I have no idea if it is true or not, but lets not pretend like our program is above such things.  Just look at some of the most hallowed instiutions in our society to see numerous examples of this kind of behavior (both underlying conduct and the cover-up). 


August 20th, 2013 at 2:25 PM ^

Remember Brian Banks had his life ruined by a false rape charge that sent him to jail for 5 years when he had an USC scholarship for football.

Not saying it isn't a horrible crime but sometimes the guy could be wrongly accused too


August 20th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

No charges happened. So basically we're posting opinion pieces from a website no one's heard of that impune our players for a crime. 


Is the OP the editor of this site or the author of the article?


August 20th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

What is the legal standard to establish libel? He is basically stating, without a ton of evidence, that Gibbons raped that girl. He has to be treading a fine line with an article phrased the way this one is


August 20th, 2013 at 2:44 PM ^

but the author of the article is just citing the police report for much of his article and so is not actually creating the libel.

Assuming (big assumption) that the woman made everything up (I am NOT saying that she did) and filed a fake police report, Gibbons could sue her for libel, but that is just an insane thing for him to do.


August 20th, 2013 at 3:11 PM ^

and he'd have to prove she was maliciously lying. Proving that she was lying would make a fine start. But if he could do that, you would think he'd have sued her by now. Defamation lawsuits are a pain in the ass to win, but they're still worth pursuing if somebody is going around provably falsely accusing you of heinous crimes.


August 20th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

So if the alleged victim's stated reason (or at least partial reason) for not pursuing charges is a desire to not relive the events publicly, what kind of person does that make Dr. Smith for stirring all this up again a couple years after all involved have presumably started trying to put this behind them?


August 20th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

please delete. This article is from years ago and has no new evidence. It's just being released now that the season is upon us.

ESPN loves to break stories like this, but even they won't run this because no charges were ever filed.

An Angelo's Addict

August 20th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

Pretty awful to drag something like this from years ago that was apparently looked into by the authorities at the time. The disturbing part is that you knew this would stir shit up by posting it. In before delete


August 20th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

The names aren't in that article. I remember deducing from some Mgoblog staff post that the player was Gibbons, but it was never outright said and Lewan's name was never mentioned.


August 20th, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

  • The notes above re: innocent until proven otherwise apply here. Unless any of us were there, none of us can determine guilt or innocence.
  • False accusations of rape do occur, though not as often as some would like you to think.
  • Contrary to some assumptions above, there are many reasons for not pursuing valid rape charges. Rape victims are re-victimized by the process. In addition, it's incredibly difficult to get a conviction of guilt, particularly when the perpetrator and victim know each other. I have been through the process with a family member. In the end, the perpetrator plead to a lesser charge, and we accepted that because the likelihood of a guilty verdict, even with specific evidence, is so hard to obtain. Part of the problem is the system. Part of the problem is a mentality that says that if the victim knew the perpetrator and they were friends, it couldn't really be rape. In this case, if they had kissed previously, chances of a conviction were very low, imo.
  • As others have pointed out, there won't be any resolution of this matter in this case. We won't be able to know who is the victim here. Life is gray sometimes.

My wishes for health and wholeness goes out to all involved.