First, Gareon Conley adamantly denied the rape allegations that surfaced before last week’s NFL Draft, per multiple reports. Multiple reports also surfaced that Conley passed a lie-detector test which backed up his claim leading up to the draft. Draft Diamonds’ reporting showed major inconsistencies in the police report of the incident.
Then, college and high school coaches and teammates attested to Conley’s character, per The Mercury News. Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie co-signed the Ohio State corner by making him the No. 24 overall pick and telling the MMQB that the team did miles of research on him.
Yet, here we are facing an uncomfortable situation as Raiders fans. Conley met with police investigating the incident earlier this week. He gave them a sample and now his lawyer is saying a sexual event other than penetration occurred, per Bleacher Report. That is a different story than we heard only a week before. Last week, Conley and witnesses emphasized that nothing happened between Conley and the victim. These inconsistencies place everyone involved in an uncomfortable position.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 2, 2017
This situation is bigger than the NFL future of our 2017 first round NFL Draft selection. This issue is larger than the fact that the NFL can not punish Conley for something that predates his selection into the NFL, per Pro Football Talk.
Now, we could be headed towards an ugly legal battle that puts the future of two young people at stake. No one will ever know what really happened other than the two people involve. It is a classic battle of he said versus she said. However, a judge and jury may be forced to decide which side is the truth. If this case goes to trial, both sides could end up trying to discredit the two sides.
Of course, Conley is innocent until proven guilty in this country. That means we shouldn’t discount his years of exceptional character due to an allegation. If he is innocent, then he might still lose the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion. If he is guilty, neither should we crucify him for one bad decision. But that is an entirely different story.
Yet, what about the victim? We can not assume that she is lying just because she is accusing a high-profile athlete. What if this was your sister, friend, mother, or girlfriend? Wouldn’t you give her the benefit of the doubt that she is telling the truth, too? If she was raped that night, then she might be scarred for the rest of her life. If she is lying, she probably needs even more mental help.
"It's an honor to be here."
– First round pick @_gconley8 on being a member of the Silver & Black.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) May 1, 2017
Thus, there doesn’t really seem to be an outcome where there are any winners in the Conley-investigation. This is usually why we see many of these cases settled. The woman is broken off with some cash for her pain and suffering while the accused can hold onto the fact that they never saw a guilty verdict or even a trial. But is that really justice for either party? Both sides could face the grueling realities of public opinion for the rest of their lives.
Ultimately, this is an ugly situation for everyone involved, including the Raiders organization and members of Raider Nation. We’re gonna have to choose moral sides. Granted, we will probably side with our guy in the Silver and Black and all those people that say this does not make any sense. However, we should not feel comfortable assuming that rape allegations are lies. Again, what if this woman meant something to you?
Hence, Raiders fans face an uncomfortable moral dilemma as we learn more in the Conley investigation. McKenzie could have left this problem for another NFL team but he married fans to the case when he called Conley’s name in the first round. More importantly, he judged Conley as innocent before there were any real developments in the investigation. We will see what happens as this investigation develops but don’t expect it to get any easier to chose a side to believe.
[Featured Image by Patrick Semansky/AP Images]