Since the December 17 Des Moines Register story which broke the news, we've all waited for the other shoe to drop in the alleged sexual assault scandal hovering over the football program. The timeline is well documented; an alleged sexual assault occurred at Hillcrest dormitory in October, Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield were suspended days later, and both players were dismissed on the same day the DMR broke the story. According to the Register, a witness saw Satterfield and then-RB Jevon Pugh with the alleged victim outside the dorm that night. However, unlike Satterfield and Everson (and Douglas, and Cleveland, and Bowman, and Huntrods, and Brown, and Nelson), Pugh was never suspended or dismissed from the program. His plight became the cause celebre around BHGP for a few months, until Pugh finally had enough of the local press and quietly transferred closer to his Florida home.
Tangential to this story is the ongoing tug-of-war between the University and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Less than two weeks after the initial investigation into the alleged assault, a Johnson County judge ordered the records of those searches sealed for 60 days (usually done in order to protect all parties in a high-profile case, especially when the safety of the victim is in danger). This order has been extended twice since. The University administration, in accordance with its interpretation of the court order, has not released a number of documents related to its investigation. The Press-Citizen, in an attempt to keep up appearances as a legitimate newsgathering organization, filed an open records suit to obtain the records, then repeatedly reported on the status of its suit as news. I've made my views on the P-C's lawsuit known before, but that's not the issue today.
As part of its suit, the Press-Citizen recently filed two motions, one requesting an index of documents being withheld and another demanding a reversal of the gag order. This, of course, struck the Press-Citizen as newsworthy. In explaining why, writer (and prolific blogger) Lee Hermiston wrote:
On Jan. 4, the Press-Citizen sued UI, seeking access to records in the Hillcrest Hall sexual assault investigation allegedly involving three Hawkeye football players.
THERE IS NO THIRD PLAYER. There is no evidence of Jevon Pugh (or, for that matter, any other player) being involved in any way. A witness put Pugh in the wrong place at the wrong time. Last I checked, that's not enough evidence to smear someone. And, before you say "The University and the football program are just covering for him," need I remind you they dismissed at least 8 players in the past academic year faster than Jessup cut Dawson and Downey loose, often on less than an indictment. If Pugh was in any way involved, it's reasonably safe to say he would have been suspended.
It's time for the Press-Citizen to be held accountable for its own irresponsible actions. If the P-C is going to claim three players are implicated in this heinous crime, it should tell us who it believes those three players are, and what evidence it is using in making such a claim. To do any less is reckless and hypocritical.