See if you can guess which defendant is a man and which is a woman …
Case 1 allegations: A trainer exchanged nude photos on Snapchat with a 17-year-old. They arranged to meet up for sex, and that’s when the police swarmed in. New York’s age of consent is 17, which might explain why the charge is child pornography and not some variant of “delinquency of a minor.” Despite a guilty plea and other cooperation with the court, prosecutors are pushing for a sentence of 37–46 months.
Case 2 allegations: A coach started having sex with a player who was 13 years old and continued to do so from 2003 to 2007. The arrest was in August 2016, after the relationship came up in the player’s therapy sessions. Since then, the defense has received continuance after continuance. After finally getting to the deposition stage, the defense said the player should be struck as a witness because the player wasn’t willing to testify to “criminal mischief of stalking.” The defense says the player was obsessed with the coach and jealous of the coach’s spouse. Again — the player involved was 13 when this started.
Need a hint? Which gender balance is celebrated in Hot for Teacher (RIP, Eddie). Which gender balance gets a nod and a wink from Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Saturday Night Live?
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So let’s restate with the gender roles added …
Shelby Garigen pleaded guilty to access with intent to view “child pornography” because she got a 17-year-old boy to send dick pics, and the government wants to lock her up through her mid-40s. She has been allowed to see some of her daughter’s soccer games but was not allowed to go to her school to see a play.
(Some of the documents in that case are now available on RECAP, a nice service designed to keep people from racking up giant bills on PACER.)
Juan Ramos, who was picked in the 1999 MLS Supplemental Draft by the Miami Fusion but didn’t make the team, has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault by a custodian (not in the parental sex) with a sexual battery victim over 12 and under 18.
One complication for the defense, as reported by the Sun-Sentinel: “Ramos acknowledged the sexual activity during an Aug. 24 meeting with the victim, which investigators audio- and video-recorded.”
So Ramos’ lawyer, Kevin Kulik, has made some novel arguments. First, because the alleged victim can’t provide exact dates of the “mere allegations” (with one exception — the date she claims to have lost her virginity), Ramos can’t gather evidence to defend himself.
Second, Kulik wants to strike the alleged victim from the prosecution’s witness list because, in her deposition, she refused to discuss vandalizing Ramos’ car (which she had previously admitted) and has used the Fifth Amendment to avoid discussing “criminal mischief and stalking” stemming from her admitted jealousy of Ramos’ then-wife.
Did we mention the alleged victim was 13 when this started?
One side note of interest: Nearly a year after Ramos’ arrest, he was spotted coaching kids in a public park. The terms of his pre-trial release say he’s only allowed to have contact with minors other than his own children if it’s supervised at his place of employment. Ramos’ ex-wife, who was present, said she was supervising him.
All of this, except the original full complaint against Ramos, is public record. (If that link won’t work, search the Broward County clerk’s office for case number 16–010310-CF10A.)
Perhaps gender isn’t the sole determining factor here. Garigen’s case is in New York state; Ramos’ case is in Florida. Maybe Ramos got a more aggressive lawyer but will still receive a lengthy sentence when this is done. But it’s hard to imagine a woman pushing a defense that she was being “stalked” by a minor.
Sure, both cases are abhorrent. That’s why they’re both listed as ineligible in the U.S. Center for SafeSport database.
The database, which has some older cases but has more information from the 2 1/2 years since the Center took authority over sexual abuse cases, is vague. Some of the cases aren’t related to sexual misconduct, and the Center doesn’t specify whether the allegations include a coach and a player. I searched news organizations and court records and came up with 23 cases, most of them from the last 2 1/2 years. Because these cases are recent, many of them have not yet worked their way through the courts, and we can’t conclude that all 23 people are guilty. I count eight people who have been sentenced — two for less than a month (voyeurism and telephone harassment) and one for 12 years.
Bear in mind — people in soccer can face the Center’s wrath for offenses that aren’t crimes. See my Soccer America story from earlier in the week about player-coach relationships when both parties are consenting adults.
All we can hope for — from the Center, from U.S. Soccer and from the court system — is fairness.