Coverage of Castro Accusations Sets Dangerous Precedent

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On day that Cubs fans should be celebrating both the departure of Carlos Zambrano and the arrival of super prospect Anthony Rizzo (who was an instrumental part in the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox), instead the news cycle on the North Side has been dominated by a bombshell dropped earlier today. Starlin Castro, the star shortstop who has been touted as the next big star for the Cubs, has been accused of sexual assault by a 22-year old woman in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred in September, according to reports.

A woman has accused Castro of taking her back to his apartment after being out at a night club, and it was there that she says he sexually assaulted her. The woman went to the hospital next evening, and according to reports, the police became involved at that point.

While these accusations are quite heinous and certainly need to be examined thoroughly, there is a degree of uncertainty that exists here. After all, if police have been involved since September, why hasn’t Castro been summoned to return to Chicago from his home in the Dominican Republic? Is the evidence they collected on that following night at the hospital not significant enough to make Castro at least a person of interest in the case before this?

According to the piece on the incident on ESPN.com, it claims that police are interested in talking to Castro when he returns to the Windy City for Cubs Convention next week (which will surely be a media circus, similar to when Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane participated in a US Olympic camp near Chicago the week following his arrest for beating up a cab driver in Buffalo two years ago). If that is indeed true, then we could learn a lot more about the status of the investigation at that time, but until then, there is one other serious question that needs to be asked.

Is it going to be a common practice now for media outlets to publish accusations and not bonafide criminal charges? Castro has not been charged with any crime in connection with the incident at this point, so it’s curious as to why the media has gone to such great lengths to report this. If any normal person was accused of these types of crimes from an incident three months ago, but wasn’t a superstar baseball player, then the papers would wait until actual charges were filed before connecting that person’s name with the heinous act of sexual assault. That is the way that this situation should have been handled, regardless of Starlin’s status as an athlete in one of the biggest media markets in the country.

These accusations, although certainly not baseless if the police want to talk to Castro, should not have been published, and the media has established a bad precedent by doing so. Having your name connected with a crime like this, even in passing, can have a very damaging impact on your reputation, and it is something that can hang like a cloud over you just like a conviction in a court room can, and that is something that has to be taken into consideration before putting something like this in the papers.

Obviously if Castro committed the crimes he’s accused of, he deserves any punishment, and subsequent damage to his reputation, that would come his way. If, however, he is innocent of these charges and they never amount to anything, then his reputation would have been soiled for no reason, and that is indeed a sad prospect for a player who is only 22 years old.

 

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