Teen Tennis Player Who Sexually Assaulted Autistic Girl Will Not Have Future Ruined By Prison
His future's so bright, he can get away with rape
Nicholas Fifield, a blonde, white tennis star at West Des Moines high school, was charged this December with third-degree sex abuse after sexual assaulting a mentally ill group home resident “suffering from a mental defect or incapacity, which precludes giving consent.”
According to the Des Moines Register, Fifield, then 17, met the victim on a dating app, and asked for permission from her parents and the people at the group home to take her on a nice, wholesome date to the movies. But instead of doing that, he took her to his home and "forced her to perform sex acts though she said 'no' many times."
The victim had been diagnosed with "[mild] mental defectiveness, autism, alcohol- and drug-related birth defect syndrome, post-traumatic stress, dissociative identity disorder, major depressive disorder with brief reactive psychotic episodes and a language disorder that makes communication difficult."
The case gained attention after Steve O’Meara, the father of another player on his tennis team (which Fifield's father just happens to coach), pointed out that following this incident, Fifield was only suspended from one game. A much lighter sentence than players who have been caught drinking or doing other things a lot less horrific than sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled person.
“Anybody who has a daughter should be appalled by this,” he said. “Our public universities suspend and remove such athletes from teams and competition. While even this single situation is appalling, it begs the question: How many other times have situations like this occurred within the Valley athletics department?”
I bet you Steve O'Meara is just the best dad. Seriously. Good for him.
Now, Fifield was supposed to go to trial on Aug. 17, but has instead submitted an Alford Plea. Meaning that he doesn't believe he's guilty of anything, but realizes there's enough evidence to prosecute him, and will be sentenced by a judge on Oct. 12.
But, if you're thinking "Oh man, that is for sure a thing a person would go to jail for!" you would be wrong. Because prosecutors are totally cool with him just getting probation.
“That’s agreeable with the victim’s family,” he said. “It’s two people with a lot of issues between them. We are trying to resolve it in a way that’s good for all. Prison would not do this kid any good.”
Yes, because that is always the purpose of prison. Self-improvement!
It's so weird how this keeps happening, right? You know, like it just happened with Brock Turner, and his beautiful future that no one wanted to dare ruin! Jeez, it is almost like if you are a white teen athlete, and you sexually assault someone, people are really concerned about how that might affect your future! What sort of "good" does prison do other people, the kind who are not white athletic teens with problems understanding consent? It just doesn't seem like this kind of leniency is applied to anyone else, ever, for any reason. So weird! I certainly can't remember the last time a poor black kid got out of going to jail for, say, robbing a convenience store or something, because no one wanted to ruin his bright future or because they didn't think prison would benefit him.
You know, certain people like to LOL at the idea of "teaching men not to rape" as opposed to teaching women how not to get raped. However, when you've got so many cases where these men are saying "Uh, I'm not really sure how forcing a mentally incapacitated woman to perform sexual acts on me is sexual assault!" -- perhaps it might be necessary.
Perhaps they could take some kind of remedial "Hey, you don't actually get to have sexual relations with people unless they want to have sexual relations with you" class? If only to establish the fact that these precious darlings actually had been previously informed that doing this is against the law, so that they cannot claim ignorance of it. Because apparently, in these cases, ignorance of the law does excuse a violation of it. It's the least we can do, given that our justice system is very much intent on letting young men know that it's cool if they want to sexually assault someone so long as they don't seem like the prison type.
**NOTE: I have very different feelings on these issues than Rebecca does, and she is OK with that.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse