Derrick Rose Cleared in Rape Trial

Nick Camposano

Derrick Rose, an NBA player for the New York Knicks, was cleared by the jury in a civil trial after being accused by an ex-girlfriend of rape in 2015. The incident in question occurred in August 2013. Now, in October of 2016, the case has come to a close.  

The 2013 incident involved Rose, his partner, and two other men at a house in Los Angeles. According to the accuser, she was drugged, and then violated by the three men while unconscious. She sought $21.5 million in damages.  

At the surface, the case appeared to be straightforward, but certain details complicated it.  First, it is known that alcohol was consumed in large quantities the night of the incident, and according to a friend of the accuser, Rose and the men had been drinking before arriving at the house.   Next, the accuser waited two years to file a lawsuit against Rose.  The defense would ask that if her story was indeed true, why would she wait an extended period time to pursue such a serious incident legally? Further, the accuser and Rose had been known for a sexual relationship, so the perceptions of the countering parties may have differed in the moment.  

One of the primary questions in the case involved the issue of consent, and whether or not the accuser had actually agreed to engaging in the activities that she claims happened.  It also presented the question of what the consent that Rose claimed had truly entailed.  His definition of consent may have differed from those of the accuser.  Rose admitted that sexual relations did occur that night, but obviously, his perspective varied greatly from the woman who stated that she had been abused by Rose and his friends.  In fact, he defended his actions, commenting that “No is no. I’m never going to force myself upon anyone.” Rose continued “When she sent me texts like that 99 percent of the time it ended up in sex, so what do you expect?”.  On the incident being brought to the court, Rose also noted “It looked like a setup. . . It turned out to be what I thought.”  

The civil trial began on October 4, and the judge, Michael Fitzgerald, initially declined the request for a mistrial after the accuser was found to be withholding multiple text messages that significantly contribute to the case. They revealed that she may have indeed consented to Rose and his two friends engaging in sexual relations with her. With this fact and other irregularities in the incident and the allegations, Rose seemed to be winning the dispute that ultimately came down to whether or not consent had been established. On October 19, the jury cleared Rose of all charges filed against him.

This rape case adds to a relevant discussion in professional sports about how athletes handle their personal lives, and how they act as role models for young people. Over the past decades, sports culture has lent itself to many instances of rape, domestic violence, and other crimes among its athletes.  The large amount of money these athletes earn still as young adults may be a factor, as well as lack of education from the leagues they play in on the subject of behavior. However, the discussion also brings up cases where, like in the case of Rose, seemingly false accusations are made. These can damage the reputations of athletes even still when they are found to be false.

For Derrick Rose, this case still could affect his reputation.  Having just joined the New York Knicks after years in Chicago, the whole process may taint the first impression he was looking for.  Beyond the sport he plays, the implications of being found guilty of rape would have changed the course of Rose’s life. As a new NBA season begins, it will be interesting to see how Rose continues after this legal battle, on and off the court.