Bernstein: Criminal Probe Must Change Derrick Rose Conversation

By Dan Bernstein

It was easier for the Knicks to deal with questions about Derrick Rose’s gang-rape trial when it was merely a civil case. Despite all the lurid and alarming details, it remained a dispute between private citizens that could be talked around without the very different and serious precautions now demanded.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s disclosure of a “current and open criminal investigation pending that names the same suspects as the defendants in the current civil case” changes what the Knicks — and to a lesser extent the Bulls, Rose’s former team — should be saying about him for the public record.

It’s a matter of tone, and both teams have been deaf. The civil plaintiff is also now potentially a victim of a crime, and should be treated as such. Rose may never be charged with anything. But until the criminal probe is concluded, the interests and rights of the alleged victim must be considered to a greater extent than they almost always are by the men who run sports teams, be they professional or collegiate.

“We’re not concerned,” Knicks president Phil Jackson said Friday. “We believe that it will not affect his season, hopefully, training camp or games.” He should have been more concerned with the seriousness of the complaint at the time, and should be much more so now, considering how significantly circumstances have changed. It can’t be about presenting a public show of support for the player at this point, but expressing a simple desire that justice be served. The default setting of protecting someone under such circumstances is what keeps victims from reporting such crimes in the first place, a display of power and manipulation of the media that serves to intimidate, whether or not that is the intent.

Words need new and different consideration when prosecution becomes a possibility, something Rose clearly did not understand when providing sworn depositions in the original case. A dispute that reportedly began over payment for a sex toy has escalated mostly due to Rose’s shocking level of obtuseness, with him admitting not only that he and his co-defendants went to the woman’s apartment with the understood intent of group sex, but that he has no understanding whatsoever of the concept of consent.

The disclosures under oath were indeed damning enough to get the renewed attention of the LAPD in a case still well within the statute of limitations. Julie DiCaro of 670 The Score in Chicago reported via Twitter that a member of the accuser’s legal team confirmed that Rose’s deposition resulted in investigators being “not at all happy” with the facts that emerged.

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So now the stakes have been raised. And even with awareness of that, Bulls executive vice president John Paxson, when asked about Rose Monday, reverted to a position insensitive to an alleged victim.

“We knew what everybody else knew,” he said, as he and general manager Gar Forman stuck to the same message that any off-court issues were not part of the reason Rose was traded to New York in June. “Those are legal issues. That’s not our purview. We wish him well.”

Paxson should have stopped before that last remark, considering that the LAPD is trying to find out if a violent crime was committed by Rose and his friends against another human being who is now fighting for justice.

We may never know what exactly happened the night of the incident. but as long as so many possibilities remain open, it is best for all involved to balance concern much more mindfully until and after there is resolution of some kind.

There’s no reason to wish a rapist well, and Derrick Rose might be one.

Dan Bernstein is senior columnist on CBS Chicago and co-host of “Boers & Bernstein” on Chicago’s 670 The Score.

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