Photo: DeKalb, Alabama, Sheriff's Office on Facebook

Wednesday evening, the campaign bus for Tommy Tuberville, Donald Trump's preferred candidate in Alabama's GOP primary for the US Senate, burst into flames and melted into a complete loss. The bus was on a test drive after some maintenance, and the driver, the only person aboard, escaped without injury.

Just in case you're keeping track of obvious metaphors from the creators of the "2020" simulation, the bus fire preceded by one day a Washington Examiner story, published last night, that details how, when Tuberville was the head football coach at Auburn University in 1999, he gave a mere one-game suspension to a football player who'd been charged with second-degree rape in a case involving a 15-year old girl. The athlete, Clifton Robinson, was 20 at the time, and pleaded to a reduced charge of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor," a misdemeanor.

After the guilty plea, Tuberville emphasized he was very, very disappointed, and that Robinson would have to face the consequences for his actions.

"Clifton is back on the team," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "He and I will sit down today and I'll tell him that we do things right around here, so he can expect there will be some punishment. What it is, I don't know yet." [emphasis added — Dok]

And apparently the way they did things around there was to issue a one-game suspension for Auburn's opening game of the season, because we guess Robinson was a pretty good player who really contributed a lot to the team, and as they say, why ruin a promising young man's life just for a little illegal sex with a minor?


Shortly after Robinson's arrest in March 1999, Tuberville suspended him, which was standard practice while a criminal case was pending. Five months later, Robinson avoided his case going to trial by accepting the lesser charge, and all was well in Auburn f'ball again. It's especially jarring today to see just how brief those 1999 stories about the case tended to be. Hell, the most detailed story linked in the Examiner piece is actually the Auburn University news release about Robinson's arrest; it notes that

Second-degree rape under Alabama law is a class B felony. The statue states that the crime occurs when a man "engages in sexual intercourse with a female less than 16 and more than 12 years old, provided; however that the (man) is at least two years older than the female."

Punishment under a conviction for second-degree rape ranges from two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Most of the coverage at the time seems to suggest it was just a little ol' statutory rape, not like real rape rape. The Auburn press release also seems to have the only expression of concern for the victim — in perfunctory boilerplate form — from then- university president William Muse:

The crime with which this young man has been accused is a very serious one and Auburn University will deal with it in a serious manner. [...] We want to assure the family of the young woman, the parents of all our students and others in the Auburn community that such behavior is not tolerated at Auburn University. Our student athletes are expected to adhere to the same standards of moral conduct as the rest of our student body.

The rightwing Washington Examiner piece has more awareness of why this matters, though it, too, sounds perfunctory in its own way:

In the #MeToo era, where victims of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment have come forward to hold those in power accountable for their crimes and cover-ups, silence and certainly weak disciplinary action can be perceived as complicity.

Present US "presidents" excepted, of course.

Tuberville is running against Democratic incumbent Doug Jones, who was elected to the Senate in a 2017 special election to replace Jeff Sessions, who had been appointed as Trump's first attorney general. As you may recall, Jones beat Judge Roy Moore, who was credibly accused by several women of having made sexual advances when they were teenagers; one woman said he'd attempted to rape her when she was 16. The other Republican in the race is Jeff Sessions himself, who has been pathetically trying to portray himself as a Trump loyalist even though Trump hates his guts.

While the Tuberville campaign didn't comment for the [apparently accurate but painfully poorly written] Examiner piece, it did issue a statement later yesterday, through campaign chair Stan McDonald, who said,

Just as team doctors had full authority to determine if injured players took the field, Coach Tuberville gave the same kind of authority to the local police, judges, and other law enforcement officials if one of his players crossed a legal line. [...] Immediate suspensions for those transgressions were routine.

Yep, that was the suspension during the summer; the statement apparently said nothing about why a plea deal in a rape case merited just a single-game suspension for Robinson. But the statement did go on to explain that Tuberville was a real champ when it came to helping young men develop the mores they'd need in life! As coach, Tuberville

helped mold the character of thousands of players, many of whom had not had the benefit of a father or positive male role model in their lives. [...]

The vast majority of his players grew, matured, received world-class educations they might not have gotten otherwise, and led successful, post-collegiate lives as a direct result of Coach's positive influence upon them.

And honestly, if Tuberville was shaping young men's characters for life in the NFL, a slap on the wrist for a rape charge does seem like it fit the bill.


[Washington Examiner / Montgomery Advertiser / USA Today / Photos: DeKalb County Sheriff's Office on Facebook]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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