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DSK and Mark Sanchez
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July 01, 2011, 04:06 PM
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The apparent implosion of the rape case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn shouldn`t have been too unexpected. That particular accusation always seemed fairly implausible. Moreover, in general, lots of celebrities are charged with rape every year, and a yet remarkable fraction of the cases disappear down the memory hole. A few, such as the Kobe Bryant case, make it to trial. (And Kobe was acquitted. Enough people hate the Lakers that the Kobe case isn`t a non-event in America — except in Los Angeles, where his winning a couple of more NBA titles in 2009-10 made him a fine, upstanding citizen again. ) Mike Tyson went to prison 20 years ago. I`m sure there have been a few others since, but not many.

A commenter says:

I think DSK`s supporters got to [the accuser] and she is being paid a lot of money to throw the case.

Probably not, since she`s supposed to be sticking to her story. Presumably, you could come up with a complicated plotline where she`s being paid to make herself look dubious, but that`s too complicated.

Still, that kind of thing happens all the time with athletes. You read in the paper that some famous jock has been arrested for rape, and then you never hear anything about it again, until you read an interview with the guy years later, where he says something like, "I went through some hard times, some unfortunate incidents that I`m not proud of, but I think I`ve grown from them as a person," and you realize he`s talking about the time the alumni boosters club paid off that coed.

For example, at the peak of the NYT`s hysteria over the purported Duke lacrosse rape case in 2006, I pointed out that three fairly prominent players in America`s biggest sport, football, had been arrested for sexual assault just in the last week. One of them went on to become the starting quarterback for one of the NYT`s hometown NFL teams. Last January with the Jets in the NFL playoffs, Emma Carmichael wrote for Deadspin:

Why No One Remembers the Mark Sanchez Rape Case

But the media seem to have gone out of the way to be sympathetic to Sanchez, and it illustrates just how flimsy and manufactured an athlete`s public image can be. The press went so far as to turn the rape allegation into your standard-issue bit of sports-world adversity schlock. After he was drafted, the New York Daily News ran a brief story that touched upon the 2006 incident: "In best of times, Mark Sanchez talks about worst day of his life." Sanchez is portrayed as a repentant, deserving young man who learned from a bad experience and became an NFL-caliber quarterback because of it. ... All people talked about regarding Sanchez - who, remember, had spent a night in jail on suspicion of sexual assault - was his poise. It`s amazing what some good genes and a nice set of dimples can do for your rep.

For all we know, Sanchez really was innocent and totally deserves the public image being crafted for him. But it`s hard not to think that the fact he is a young, good-looking quarterback - one with a young Namath`s charm and a gentle ancestral immigration story at a time of great anti-immigrant unease - made it all too easy to ignore the uglier stuff. There`s a story everyone wants to tell about Sanchez, and his getting popped on a rape accusation doesn`t fit.

Of course, Sanchez was a lusty lad of 19, while DSK was an old goat of 62, so that helps make it more memorable.