December 11, 2008
We can all agree: Punching a woman is not a very nice thing to do, especially if the puncher is male. We have societal rules against this sort of thing. You're not really supposed to punch anybody, but if you must punch, please choose a male victim. Much more acceptable.
Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf (allegedly) missed that memo. According to a Syracuse judicial board, Devendorf punched a woman in the face and will be suspended from all campus activities for a semester, meaning he'll not only not be able to attend classes but his basketball career will suffer a brief bout of non-existence. In the near-term, Devendorf is appealing, and he can stay with the team until that appeal is finished.
The exact details of Devendorf's crime don't explain much, but they do tell a tale:
Kim Smith, a 20-year-old SU student, claimed she was sitting in her car when a group of people approached her, yelling and kicking her car. Once she got out of her car, she says Devendorf hit her. Devendorf says he was defending himself. Smith’s lawyer, Rich Kesnig, claims that text messages exchanged between Smith and a teammate of Devendorf's prove that the player had harassed Smith.
1) yo kim thanks for taking the time 2 talk 2 me...i appreciate it...and i hope u can find it in ur heart to forgive my teammates thanks
2) 315[XXXXXXX]...this is coach boheim number if you or ur family wants 2 call...and thanks for listening
3) hey kim its me again...i just letting u know that i just got out of practice and eric was pretty animate at wanting 2 apologize 2 u and ur family himself but i
4) didnt know if u wanted 2 hear from him so im asking u now if that’s ok?
Really. Criminal geniuses here. "Hey, remember when we punched that girl in the face and stuff? Yeah! That was probably not very nice. Oh. So maybe we should apologize to her, via easily-replicated-in-court text messages. Great idea!" Somewhere, Rod Blagojevich is wincing. Even he wasn't that careless.
Here's where it gets really weird, though. Read this paragraph. (Or, if you've already read it, read it again. Do as I say!)
At the time of the incident, Smith asked police to arrest him, but the Onondaga County District Attorney's office turned the matter over to the university.
That's what I don't get. The alleged victim asked police to arrest Devendorf for punching her. Presumably, they considered it. After all, it's against the law to assault people in Syracuse, yes? It's not within someone's legal rights to walk up to a woman and punch her in the face? That's pretty clear cut, I'd say. But instead of seeking to arrest Devendorf, or bring him in for questioning, or whatever, the District Attorney's office turned the case over to ... Syracuse judicial board.
A judicial board is a student-run group that weighs minor cases on campus. Like, Jonny got a drinking ticket on campus last weekend. Give him probation. That sort of thing. And the District Attorney in that area felt comfortable enough with the judgement of 12 bleary college kids he was totally willing to relinquish the SU-player-punches-woman case?
Can anyone explain this? Because I don't get it.