FanDuel - WFBC

July 09, 2009

Has a Rising Soccer Star Been Wrongly Convicted of Rape?: ESPN The Pretentiously Named Magazine covers the questionable prosecution of Eric Frimpong, a soccer player from Ghana who won the national championship with UC Santa Barbara, was drafted in the first round by the Kansas City Wizards and then convicted of raping a college student, in spite of a lack of DNA evidence, a lack of physical evidence and the accuser's near-toxic blood alcohol level, which makes her personal testimony dubious. "From the start, the sheriff's department felt like they had their guy," said his college coach Tim Vom Steeg. "But when the evidence didn't turn out the way it was supposed to, their position became, 'If she's willing to testify, we'll go forward.'"

posted by rcade to soccer at 10:04 AM - 35 comments

I read this article when I recieved my copy of ESPN the Magazine on Monday and my heart when out to Eric Frimpong. It seems as if all evidence points to the ex-boyfriend but because this was a "high profile" case, the detectives wanted to lock Frimpong up regardless if he was innocent or not. One of the jurors, after Frimpong was found guilty, said that they felt that the jurors were being rushed into having a verdict by Dec. 18th so that everyone would be able to spend time with their families during the holiday. So, Eric Frimpong was found guilty even though his accuser's recollection of what transpired had "gaps" and her side of the story changed every so often since she was beyond intoxicated.

This case needs to be re-opened and the truth has to be told so that this young man can continue living his life outside of prison and back into playing the game he was born to play. This was a racially motivated case and all the facts were not even admitted by the judge presiding over this. As the story pointed out, even though there was "a lack of physical evidence and the accuser's near-toxic blood alcohol level, which makes her personal testimony dubious", Eric Frimpong was found guilty but he is still showing the prisoners behind bars what's it's like to have a positive outlook in life no matter what negative reaction is thrown his way.

posted by BornIcon at 11:42 AM on July 09

I don't know. The fact that he had her epithelial cells on his scrotum and penis and under his fingernails is physical evidence. Also, another woman coming forward with a similar story is pretty damning.

posted by bperk at 11:46 AM on July 09

If you read the story, before he was told by the detectives that picked him up as to why was he brought in to the station for, he told them of how this young girl attempted to kiss him and even went so far as to put her hand down his pants which would be a reason as to why her epithelial cells would be on his scrotum and penis.

With the second woman, it all seemed too coincidental and he was found not guilty. It sounds as if the second woman came forth so that Frimpong would be looked at by the jury as a "serial sexual predator" that would "severely prejudiced him before the jury" even thought this was a "flawed rape claim".

posted by BornIcon at 12:07 PM on July 09

If you read the story, before he was told by the detectives that picked him up as to why was he brought in to the station for, he told them of how this young girl attempted to kiss him and even went so far as to put her hand down his pants which would be a reason as to why her epithelial cells would be on his scrotum and penis.

I don't think the story says that all. The part about his interviews with the detectives does not include that. The story about the kissing is just his side of the story compiled from various sources, not only from the first interview with the detectives. That very well could be a defense his team came up with after the physical evidence was discovered.

posted by bperk at 12:18 PM on July 09

My fault, what my comment should have said was "If you read the story, before he was told by the detectives that picked him up as to why was he brought in to the station for, he told them the story spoke of how this young girl attempted to kiss him and even went so far as to put her hand down his pants which would be a reason as to why her epithelial cells would be on his scrotum and penis.

Sorry about that, I could've sworn that I corrected it but my guess if as good as yours.

posted by BornIcon at 12:22 PM on July 09

The epithelial cells on his genitals were not vaginal cells, according to the test. It seems like an extremely small amount of evidence to base a rape conviction on, in the total lack of DNA evidence, semen, physical abrasions and testimony from a victim who wasn't nearly dead from drinking too much.

posted by rcade at 12:35 PM on July 09

The ESPN article was hardly what you would call balanced. The judge issued a pretty clear statement that he had never seen a rape case with "so much incriminating, credible and powerful evidence." I guess he could be in on it as well. And, all of the 32 witnesses that the prosecutor called.

posted by bperk at 12:49 PM on July 09

Judge Hill also dismissed certain things from the case that would have helped make the point that Eric Frimpong did not do what he was being charged with.

Before Judge Hill made the statement that in his 27-year career, "I've not seen a rape case with so much incriminating, credible and powerful evidence", defense expert Charles Bowers delivered his opinion: "Frimpong's teeth could not have made the bite, but Randall's (Jane Doe's ex-boyfriend) teeth could have" but he also dismissed that motion. Having an all-white, 9 women 3 male jury for a case where the defendant is a black male and the accuser is white female certainly does not do Frimpong any favors.

posted by BornIcon at 01:36 PM on July 09

That judge's statement seems utterly delusional. What evidence?

posted by rcade at 02:19 PM on July 09

The judge sat through the whole case. We read a biased ESPN article. Presumably, he has a better idea about the state of the evidence than we do.

posted by bperk at 02:27 PM on July 09

So all of the statements and this story are all untrue because it was printed in a ESPN magazine? Sure, if you want to go that route, by all means. I personally do not believe that a story like this would be printed if the facts that were given were not accurate, especially from the mothership.

posted by BornIcon at 02:50 PM on July 09

Here's an article from the Santa Barbara Independent that concurs with the ESPN article.

I guess they're biased as well.

And Judge Brian Hill is an elected official (not appointed) and served as a prosecutor for 18 years as well. Elected officials are about as believable as girls with a BAC of .30

posted by cjets at 03:55 PM on July 09

The judge sat through the whole case. We read a biased ESPN article. Presumably, he has a better idea about the state of the evidence than we do.

Every miscarriage of justice in this country had a judge presiding over the trial. Judges make mistakes. Prosecutors make mistakes. Some judges and prosecutors are even corrupt.

No one should take the ESPN article at face value, but can you identify the "incriminating, credible and powerful evidence" against this guy? Where's the proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

posted by rcade at 04:35 PM on July 09

I don't have the transcripts for the trial, so I'm not sure what all the evidence is. From what I can piece together, I'd say the evidence against him is that the woman was raped, she accurately described her attacker, he was with her that evening, her DNA was on his genitalia, and the prosecutor's expert testified that he couldn't rule out that the bite mark came from him. Oh, and another woman testified to a similar encounter with him.

posted by bperk at 05:30 PM on July 09

I'd say the evidence against him is that the woman was raped ...

That's not evidence against him. That's evidence a crime was committed by somebody.

... she accurately described her attacker, he was with her that evening ...

Both she and Frimbong agree they spent time together before the alleged assault. Her ability to accurately describe him is not in question.

... her DNA was on his genitalia ...

Non-vaginal DNA, which is consistent with his claim that she put her hand down his pants before he spurned her advances. None of his blood, semen or DNA was found on her.

... and the prosecutor's expert testified that he couldn't rule out that the bite mark came from him ...

But he couldn't rule it in, either. How is that persuasive against him?

Oh, and another woman testified to a similar encounter with him.

He was found not guilty of that crime.

The accuser was so drunk that she couldn't remember anything from when she was picked up by friends at 1:30 a.m. until she arrived at the hospital an hour later with a blood alcohol level of .29. She had a history of alcohol-induced blackouts.

Is it not possible she's confused about the events that took place right before that lost hour? When she borrowed a phone to call her friends at 1:30, she told the person she borrowed it from that she "didn't know what had happened." She told police that chunks of the night were lost to her memory and some of the things she told police were inconsistent or contradictory.

All in all, I think ESPN has made a pretty good case that he was wrongfully convicted.

posted by rcade at 06:11 PM on July 09

It's a good thing Jimmy Stewart died before this post.

posted by yerfatma at 08:08 PM on July 09

Every miscarriage of justice in this country had a judge presiding over the trial. Judges make mistakes. Prosecutors make mistakes. Some judges and prosecutors are even corrupt

Judge Ito anybody?

From what I can piece together, I'd say the evidence against him is that the woman was raped, she accurately described her attacker

Are you even sure that we're talking about the same story here? To say that she "accurately described her attacker" is ridiculous. The girl was near-death drunk. This supposed, accurate description that she gave the detectives were that her attacker was "a black male who spoke with an "island accent" and had "big lips" and short hair"...she really broke it down right there. To imply that this wasn't a racially motivate rape case is overlooking the actual facts that are looking right at you. This kid is doing some real time for someone else that actually did what he was accused of and that's the sad part of all this.

Thanks fatty, I always liked the flick 12 Angry Men

posted by BornIcon at 08:44 AM on July 10

All in all, I think ESPN has made a pretty good case that he was wrongfully convicted.

I guess if you believe that he had the most amazing, colossal bad luck. The woman who he was getting drunk with thrust her dna on his genitalia, just so happened to get raped right by his house, and was so drunk she had no idea who raped her. He had the misfortune of being accused of the same crime by someone else. Then he came upon a corrupt judge, corrupt DA, and 12 racist jurors. I just don't find that scenario very likely.

posted by bperk at 09:50 AM on July 10

Thanks fatty, I always liked the flick 12 Angry Men

Every time you explain a gag, an angel loses its wings.

posted by yerfatma at 10:24 AM on July 10

Didn't know it was a gag, I just thought you posted a pic of Jimmy Stewart while in the film 12 Angry Men, which is a classic.

posted by BornIcon at 10:49 AM on July 10

I guess if you believe that he had the most amazing, colossal bad luck. ... I just don't find that scenario very likely.

Guilty until proven innocent, in other words. You've turned the justice system completely on its head.

The judge, DA and jury in a trial don't have to be corrupt to wrongly convict someone of murder. There are countless examples of prosecutors and cops who zeroed in on a suspect and never looked at anyone else, then did everything they could to ignore anything that might prove they were wrong.

How much bad luck did Lenell Geter have to experience in order to be convicted of murder in Texas? How much bad luck did the Duke lacrosse team have?

posted by rcade at 10:53 AM on July 10

A quote from the Geter case: "Geter went on trial for the $615 stickup of a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet. Five prosecution witnesses identified him, but gave contradictory answers to questions about the robber's height and weight. For the defense, nine of Geter's colleagues testified that he had been at work at the time of the holdup. No physical evidence, like fingerprints or a gun, was presented. Still, in October 1982 the all-white jury found him guilty."

Nine coworkers testified that Geter was at work. Nine! No physical evidence was presented. Yet was still convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, and it took national media coverage to free him.

posted by rcade at 10:57 AM on July 10

You can only go so far into trying to explain someone the obvious flaws in a certain situation until you realize that your wasting your breath, but everyone still has an opinion. We're not involved in this case in any way but to see a faulty judicial system put someone's life away behind bars over something that just doesn't add up is horrific to say the least.

In this case, justice is in fact blind because like rcade pointed out, the officials in this case did everything in their powers to ignore the ex-boyfriend Benjamin Randall, who defense expert Charles Bowers testified under oath, said was actually the one who was capable of making the bite mark on the cheek of Jane Doe. Benjamin Randall was never even looked at as a suspect even though he was there the night that Jane Doe was raped and even stated that after seeing Frimpong with Jane Doe that, "I might've been a little upset. I guess you can call that jealousy." Maybe even upset and jealous enough to see an intoxicated Jane Doe alone at the beach after Frimpong left her to go over his friends house and then proceeded to rape her.

posted by BornIcon at 11:13 AM on July 10

Guilty until proven innocent, in other words.

No, it is still innocent until proven guilty, but he has already been proven guilty. So, I don't see the problem in assuming he is guilty until I see convincing evidence otherwise. I just don't see it here. I am very skeptical of cases like Geter's where someone is identifying a stranger because those cases tend to be flawed. That isn't an issue in this case. There is zero risk of misidentification because he admits they were together. There is, in fact, physical evidence indicating intimate contact. He had plenty of support. He didn't have a public defender. He doesn't have a low IQ. His jury was all-white, but there is not much you can do about in a community that is damn near all white. We don't know what other evidence there was. We don't know what testimony those 32 people offered. I like to criticize our racist justice system as much as anyone, but the DNA on his genitalia is pretty convincing. And, jurors are very convinced by that sort of physical evidence. He obviously did not testify to explain how it got there, so they had to draw their own conclusions as to whether they believed her account. Obviously, they did.

The Duke lacrosse case is unrelated b/c there was no judge, no jury, just one DA out to make his case into something it wasn't.

posted by bperk at 11:51 AM on July 10

I like to criticize our racist justice system as much as anyone, but the DNA on his genitalia is pretty convincing

If that's all you're going on to convince yourself that this kid is guilty then you must have missed this: Epithelial cells are found inside the body and in body fluids like mucus, saliva and sweat. These tested negative as vaginal cells, but such tests can be inconclusive. When the case went to trial that November, the defense argued that the findings were consistent with Frimpong's claim that Doe had grabbed his genital

The Duke lacrosse case is unrelated b/c there was no judge, no jury, just one DA out to make his case into something it wasn't.

Dianne Burns, the criminologist who examined the physical evidence testified at the trial that on Feb. 22, Detective Daniel Kies asked her to expedite her usual process, reminding her that this was a "high-profile case."

posted by BornIcon at 12:00 PM on July 10

No, it is still innocent until proven guilty, but he has already been proven guilty. So, I don't see the problem in assuming he is guilty until I see convincing evidence otherwise.

When you're arguing whether someone was wrongly convicted or not, using their conviction to evaluate their innocence or guilt is circular logic.

If you had been a juror on that trial, you would have been asked to determine whether he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You could not have employed time travel to go forward in time and make your judgment on the basis that he was convicted.

Can you genuinely say that two epithelial cells on his genitals and her accusation while heavily intoxicated proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?

posted by rcade at 12:23 PM on July 10

There is zero risk of misidentification because he admits they were together.

He admits they were together earlier in the night. Seeing as she was BLACK OUT DRUNK when the rape happened, I'd say there's plenty of risk of misidentification.

You can only go so far into trying to explain someone the obvious flaws in a certain situation until you realize that your wasting your breath

Agreed.

posted by inigo2 at 12:35 PM on July 10

I just thought you posted a pic of Jimmy Stewart

Lee J. Cobb would be very insulted.

posted by cjets at 12:53 PM on July 10

His jury was all-white, but there is not much you can do about in a community that is damn near all white.

You can choose not to exclude every minority from the jury. From the Independent article:

At trial the prosecutor systematically excluded minorities and foreign-born citizens from the jury, depriving Eric of a jury of his peers.

posted by cjets at 01:00 PM on July 10

Lee J. Cobb would be very insulted.

So would Henry Fonda.

posted by goddam at 01:03 PM on July 10

Hank was the lead in the movie. But that is definitely Lee J. in the photo above doing his "you know how those people are" shtick.

posted by cjets at 02:54 PM on July 10

The standard is supposed to be "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt". It appears that the prosecutor in this case, with the cooperation of the judge, did everything he could to make sure no reasonable doubt was allowed to creep into the trial. I had wondered at the jury selection until cjets explained it, above. How this case will get past the appeal process is beyond me. If no appeal has been filed, what could the defense attorney be thinking?

I really believe that ESPN presented a strong, factual argument, although highly biased by Frimpong's athletic prowess. Of course, bias is usually prevalent in such matters. This is especially true when you consider that district attorneys are elected, and frequently have higher political aspirations.

posted by Howard_T at 03:13 PM on July 10

But that is definitely Lee J. in the photo above doing his "you know how those people are" shtick.

I think the point is Jimmy Stewart was not in the film due to his wild contract demands. Which is to say, I'm a moron for not putting Henry Fonda. I plead insanity.

posted by yerfatma at 03:23 PM on July 10

Can you genuinely say that two epithelial cells on his genitals and her accusation while heavily intoxicated proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?

No, but that isn't all the jury was working with. The jury had lots of other witness testimony that are obviously not elucidated in the ESPN article. I suspect that the crucial difference I have with you about this case is the credibility we give to the heavily intoxicated victim. The jury must have found her credible while you clearly do not.

I'm surprised at the willingness of people to believe that these 12 jurors, the judge, and the jury had racial animus, but there is so much reluctance in other cases like this one. I'm usually on the opposite side of this argument here.

When you are reviewing a conviction, I do think the benefit of the doubt has to be that the conviction was valid. In some cases, as the one you linked above, it is still blatantly obvious that something went wrong.

posted by bperk at 03:23 PM on July 10

I suspect that the crucial difference I have with you about this case is the credibility we give to the heavily intoxicated victim. The jury must have found her credible while you clearly do not.

For one, she was near-toxic drunk so much that she had "gaps" in her memory that she couldn't truly remember what actually happened. It wasn't as if she was attacked and went straight to the police station. Jane Doe had to be talked into going to the police station by her friends who obviously saw that something did happen to her but again, it's all too coincidental that her ex-boyfrind saw her & Eric Frimpong together, was "upset" and "jealous" over seeing her with another male and then later on that night, she was raped by a guy that had his whole future & career in front of him?

I don't buy it no matter what the judge or jury decided. The jury even felt as they were being rushed into a verdict without all of the facts of the case being included to show them that Frimpong was guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

I, for one would like to see this case brought back to trial and Eric Frimpong being given a fair trial with a jury of his peers and a judge presiding over the case that does not have a apparent hidden agenda.

posted by BornIcon at 06:56 AM on July 11

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