Derrick Rose’s accuser has filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals after a Los Angeles federal jury held that current New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose and his two acquaintances — Ryan Allen and Randall Hampton — were not civilly liable. The original claims consisted of breaking into the woman’s Los Angeles apartment and having sex with her while she was incapacitated and drugged.
After a three-week trial and three hours of deliberation, the jury determined the woman, who had previously been in a relationship with Rose and known as Doe by the media throughout the trial, consented to the encounter in 2013. The panel of six women and two men returned a unanimous verdict. According to one juror, “She could have done a number of things to prove that this happened and she took none of the steps to prove her case.”
Although Rose will not be liable for the $12.5 million in damages alleged by his accuser, Article 35 of the NBA’s Constitution does allow Adam Silver to impose a fine or suspension for “conduct that does not conform to standards of morality or fair play, that does not comply at all times with all federal, state, and local laws, or that is prejudicial or detrimental to the NBA.” Moreover, under the CBA, Article 6, Silver can suspend players for ten or more games if they are convicted of, or plead guilty to, violent felonies, as previously pointed out by Sports Illustrated‘s legal analyst Michael McCann.
The question then becomes: will Silver utilize his commissioner powers? On one hand, then-Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor was suspended for 24 games in 2014 after the former Vanderbilt star plead guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property. Additionally, Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collision was suspended eight games earlier this season after he also pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic battery.
To the contrary, Rose did not enter into a guilty plea; in fact, he was found innocent, so Rose may certainly survive suspension from the league office. Still, Rose’s situation is somewhat unique in that the allegations raised against him were significantly troublesome. A lawsuit such as this has the potential to paint the entire NBA community in a poor light.
Within the last week, Rose is attempting to recoup some $70,000 in legal costs he incurred. Nevertheless, on appeal, Rose’s accuser will argue that impertinent evidence was excluded and claiming jury instructions were tainted, per The Associated Press. The district court trial was not without somewhat questionable occurrences, including Rose posing for photos with jurors immediately following the verdict and a comment from the judge joking to Rose, “Best wishes, except when the Knicks play the Lakers.”
Rose’s accuser recently cited an ex-prosecutor’s description of what it’s like to take on a professional athlete in court: “I’d have a better chance prosecuting the President of the United States.” There is no question sports superstars, like any celebrity, receive preferential treatment in various aspects of life, and at times this treatment may be unintentionally extended into the courtroom.
Regardless of the result, the accusations and trail coverage will certainly have an effect on Rose’s public image and endorsement value. Consumers, especially parents of children, will take notice of Rose’s at the very least “questionable” judgment. Perhaps the most likely place the Knicks star will be able to quiet critics is on the basketball court itself, but the early struggles of the team one could assume isn’t exactly what he imagined. Following the appeal, this case now takes on an extended timeline, which will come without additional increasing media coverage.
Additional pressure may be put on Silver to address the sexual assault policy within the league’s constitution, as many major sports have been required to do within the last year. It is unlikely Silver will take action against Rose in the future, but a loss on appeal could paint the entire case in a different light.
- The Associated Press, Woman Appeals Defeat in Rape Lawsuit Against Derrick Rose, NY Times (Nov. 17, 2016).
- Ben Rohrbach, Derrick Rose, Co-defendants Seek to Recoup $70,000 from Their Rape Accuser, Yahoo! Sports (Nov. 17, 2016).
- Marc Stein, Kings PG Darren Collison suspended 8 games for domestic violence incident, ESPN.com (Oct. 2, 2016).
- Michael McCann, Jeff Taylor’s suspension for domestic violence presents compelling debate, Sports Illustrated (Nov. 21, 2014).
- Michael McCann, Analysis: Why Derrick Rose Was Found Not Liable, Sports Illustrated (Oct. 19, 2016).