Praise Martin-Oguike, Rape Victim

Allegations of rape have become a flashpoint for both problems with the legal system and its intersection with pop culture.  On one side, it’s a terrible crime and one worthy of our most severe condemnation. On the other, it’s often a tough crime to prove, and that’s resulted in watering down the demand for proof, sometimes to the point of mere finger-pointing.

The problem is that this doesn’t bother certain societal interest groups, who don’t seem to have a problem with the potential of wrongful convictions if it results in more convictions. It’s the old “take one for the team” theory, or better to convict ten innocent men than let one guilty rapist go free theory of law.

Proponents of the fallacy that there is no such thing as a false rape accusation, meet Temple football player Praise Martin-Oguike. Via Jonathan Turley:

Praise Martin-Oguike, 20, once had one of the most inspiring stories of a young Nigerian raised by a pastor father and poet mother who went to college in the United States and achieved acclaim on the football field for Temple. That all came crashing down when a Temple business student accused him of rape. He was arrested, stripped of his scholarship, suspended from Temple, and denounced nationally as a football thug. The problem is that he appears entirely innocent.

It’s not that the allegation turned out to be open to challenge, but that the “victim’s” emails show that it was a wholesale lie, a fabrication, created to pay back Praise (that’s his first name, for those who find such things confusing) for not being interested in her romantically.  Well, she got him, right?

And who is this false accuser?  Who knows?  The names of rape victims are shielded. Then again, she is no rape victim.  That never happens, you say?  Tell it to Brian Banks. Tell it to the Duke Lacrosse team. Tell it to Praise.

The argument is that if the identities of false rape victims, even when they’re liars, are revealed, it will scare others into not reporting rapes and sexual assaults.  The argument is grounded in the contention that these crimes are already grossly underreported, which is a rather difficult claim to prove by definition, but it’s an article of faith for its adherents and so no proof is needed.

Similarly, most false accusers, engaged in rank perjury and falsely reporting, are subject to prosecution for the harm they did an innocent person.  Not usually the case in false rape cases, again because of the pressure brought to bear by those who want nothing to stand in the way of as many allegations of rape and sexual assault as possible. It’s not that they support false claims, though given the amorphous definition of sex crimes, the line between crime and non-crime is so blurry as to defy credulity at times, but are happy to suffer the false accusations to be sure that no guilty person go free.

In the meantime, Praise Martin-Oguike’s life has been ruined.

Martin-Oguike was suspended from the team after he was charged. He now attends a New Jersey community college.

No Temple (good job, Temple, supporting that innocent until proven guilty thing). No scholarship. No reputation. No football career. He’s been relegated to a community college in New Jersey, which is one step below Club Fed, except Fort Dix.

What isn’t mentioned was that this was a college kid, now 20 years old.  The accusation came in May, 2012, meaning that he’s had this gun pointed at his head for a year and a half.  Who gives a 20-year-old a year and a half of his life back?  Who gives him the parties, the dates, the good times and the bad, that make up the normal college experience?  No one does. It can’t be done.

“So what?,” the nasty haters respond.  What’s the loss of a year and a half, an education, a career, a life, to some jock (because football players are animals inclined to sexually assault women) when compared to the harm done a woman who has been raped?

The surface appeal of the question is a delusion, because we are not comparing a rapist to a rape victim. We are comparing an innocent young man to a perjurer.

What it all boils down to is whether one is prepared to sacrifice the innocent on the altar of never doubting that a cry of rape is true.  They may be fine with the jurisprudential construct that it is better that ten guilty people go free rather than one innocent person be convicted when it comes to any other crime. Just not rape.

When it comes to a sexual crime against women (and let’s be frank, this is only about sexual crimes against women), everything changes.  Tough nuggies, Praise. You may be innocent, but the gals want you to take one for the team even though it turns out that you were the true rape victim here.



16 thoughts on “Praise Martin-Oguike, Rape Victim

  1. JimBill

    I don’t imagine any prosecutor would be willing to bring charges against the perjurer considering the argument you mention about scaring true rape victims; but are there any civil options for a person in Praises shoes? Or better yet, has anyone successfully sued because of false rape allegations without criminal charges being made?

    1. SHG Post author

      There could very well be a civil action, but to what end? Years of litigation and you can’t get blood from a rock. So unless she has money, why bother?

      1. Joe

        I know this isn’t your area of law, and I already feel slightly disturbed for looking for deep pockets and “thinking like a lawyer”, but I wonder if there’s a cause of action against Temple. After all, the school took a lot of serious and irreversible actions without any basis, other than an arrest that was never even prosecuted. If the perjurer’s conduct likely can’t, or won’t, be punished, how about a deterrent for the other entity involved?

        1. SHG Post author

          That’s a good question. They are the deep pockets here, and they certainly made determinations inconsistent with his presumption of innocence that severely damaged him. But as you say, I’m not a tort guy (or maybe even a contract guy?), so I really don’t know.

        2. Marc R

          Suing a university is very difficult for a litany of reasons separate from the parties’ relationship. Assuming a special relationship between Temple and the Innocent of Horrible Accusation guy there exists that relationship multiple times over between a duty to care for each other student. The burden of proof for a private school, albeit receiving federal funding, is heightened for a highly paying (or scholarship student, still for economic reasons) student than for a mere “civilian” or “townie.”

          He can file against Temple and maybe the school would settle for nuisance value or to end publicity at a pittance of what the plaintiff or her (yea, other than the case of the 18 and 15 year old girl in Martin Co, FL, the pronoun “her” while grammatical is unempirical) lawyer may desire. Or maybe they would lose a summary judgment. But I can’t see a general violation that would manifest a cause of action specifically against Temple generally. Maybe a specific actor would have liability but they would be heavily shielded by non pretextual or valid (enough to keep away from a jury) reasons for their actions protecting the other kids at Temple.

          Obviously I’m not affiliated with this case and don’t know what jurisdiction/venue we’re talking about. This is hypothetical meandering about whether a civil cause of action may exist and consequently dissuade a future university’s assistance in possible malicious prosecution of those charged with crimes deemed heinous and disgusting to civil society.

          1. Max Kennerly

            Nuisance value is about all he’d get, if that. In Pennsylvania, I probably hear about one suit a year in which (1) a student was accused of rape (2) the school found him responsible for something (often “sexual misconduct,” but not “sexual assault”) (3) the DA declined criminal prosecution (4) the accused sues the school for a bunch of torts and breach of contract.

            These cases tend to be filed with a lot of sound and fury by lawyers who haven’t a clue what they’re really doing. The tort claims get bounced, and then the contract claim comes down to whether the school followed its own policies, which it typically did.

            A defamation / malicious prosecution claim against the accuser tends to go further in litigation, but to no real resolution. The accuser doesn’t have money anyway, and at some point the lawyer for the accused realizes that, unless he has a smoking gun (which he usually doesn’t), he’s just trying to prove to the jury the same defense the university already rejected, and he abandons the client.

  2. bukola

    If she can afford to attend Temple, I think a threat to institute civil proceedings against her should be enough to guarantee a settlement. Otherwise, I would still advise him to file an action, if only to bring attention to the issues and reveal her identity.

    I bet he doesn’t need to be told to focus on his football career and studies now. What a way to learn a lesson!

  3. Matt B

    And beyond the year and a half, the scholarship, the career, there will always be absolutists who won’t believe any proclamation of innocence, no matter if it’s from the State and no matter how definite. They’ll simply ignore contrary evidence and deny the existence of false accusation, and this kid (who is one of the rare innocents who’s actually proven innocent, not to get into that mess) pays. Tragic.

    Sex crimes in general, and rape stats/policy are such a murky, irrational-behavior strewn mess that they’re impossible to legislate without nuance (if then), and far too many people see black and white. It’s discouraging, really.

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s true. To some, he will always be a rapist even though the evidence conclusively shows it never happened. And there is nothing he can do about it.

    2. DannyJ119

      Unfortunately, too much of the populace considers folks that are accused of rape, as rapists or the rapist that got away with it. However, you could replace rapist with murder, sexual predator, etc.

  4. Daran

    Similarly, most false accusers, engaged in rank perjury and falsely reporting, are subject to prosecution for the harm they did an innocent person.

    Are they? Here in the UK false accusers are subject to prosecution on charges of “wasting police time” and “perverting the course of justice”. In other words, they are subject to prosecution for the harm they did to the criminal justice system. The harm they did to the innocent person doesn’t appear to come into it. Is it different in your part of the world?

    If someone stole a police batton and used it to bludgeon somebody, and they were only prosecuted for “theft” and “misuse of police property”, you’d think the charges missed the point.

  5. Martin

    The fact that the school couldn’t be bothered to issue a public apology to this young man is disturbing. Much less at least offer him his scholarship back.

  6. Pingback: Police and prosecution roundup - Overlawyered

  7. Drew Roberts

    Just an update. It looks like he is rejoin the Temple Football team. Assuming his scholarship is being reinstated.

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