The Unfounded Accusation

arraignment-cartoonWhen Ezekiel Elliott was accused recently of domestic violence, my bullshit meter started ringing. I’ve spoken on the topic of Domestic Violence and family assault before, but examples keep surfacing that proves my point. We, the collective society, have created an atmosphere of victimization that makes it far too easy to accuse and convict individuals of domestic abuse. This is true of the celebrity and true for the poor slob who is just trying to make his way through the world without hassle from government intrusion.

I don’t judge by accusation. I know too much about how easy it is to make an accusation. I also know full well that some accusations are true. So the fact that Ezekiel Elliott’s girlfriend accused him of assault didn’t strike me as particularly unique. However, the timing made all the difference in the world to me. How is it that Elliott’s girlfriend had so suddenly become a victim of violence at about the exact same time that Elliott signs his first hefty contract to play football for the Dallas Cowboys?

Now comes the latest that the person accusing Elliott has posted photos of her injuries to her Instagram account, and is making statements online about how she has been victimized. All of this is suspicious to me. Ohio authorities are investigating the accusation, and I am sure they are uncomfortable with the online celebrity their complainant has been creating. Jerry Jones has been quoted as saying “NFL players are targets” and will no doubt be lambasted for being insensitive to “victims” of domestic violence. I also have a problem with his statement, but only because he is partly right. In reality, all of us are targets. Accusations against professional athletes are simply more publicized.

As facts come to light in Ezekiel Elliott’s domestic assault investigation, we have learned that four individuals were present during this “fight” between Elliott and his girlfriend and none of them saw this alleged assault. We also learned that this repeated “assault” apparently occurred at about the same time that Elliott was attempting to break off his relationship with this young woman. She was apparently not going on the NFL ride with him.

I have tried three cases involving assaults that supposedly occurred during a break up. One of them involved a professional athlete. In all of those cases it was the accused who had proposed the break up, and in all of those cases the prosecutors were surprised by the trial result.

Domestic violence is an actual problem in this country and if we are going to maintain a happy, orderly and productive society, we need to deal with it. However, if we glorify victimization to the point where we automatically believe each and every accusation without thorough analysis and investigation, we will no longer believe any accusation. Real victims won’t be helped. Real criminals won’t be punished.

I hope Ohio makes the right decision in this case and doesn’t crater to the publicity. I hope that if they refuse charges they reveal the specific facts unearthed by the investigation that led them to believe probable cause didn’t exist. We all need to be educated not only about the dangers of domestic violence, but also about the dangers of the unfounded accusation.