The Heene Hoax

On Thursday, much of the country was transfixed on a weather balloon floating across the Colorado sky.  A six year old boy had apparently climbed into a box that was attached to the balloon and untethered the balloon, allowing it to float at heights of up to 7000 feet.  Authorities were alerted, and news organizations quickly volunteered the services of their helicopters to track the balloon.  This was a Big Deal.  When the balloon landed, little Falcon Heene was nowhere to be found.  Everyone feared for the worst.

Then, amazingly, the boy was found, safe and sound.  It appears that he had been hiding in the attic.  The family began to make the rounds on TV until a slip-up by the boy made people wonder if this was in fact a hoax.  This family had been on Wife Swap – were they trying to get another fifteen minutes (or more) or fame?

On Sunday, authorities said that charges are expected to be filed.  It is expected that those charges will include a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report as well as felony charges of conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of a minor (by causing the kids to make false statements to the police), and attempting to influence a public servant (I’m not exactly sure what this refers to).

In addition, the Heenes may find themselves on the hook for the cost of the search.  I certainly hope so – it doesn’t seem fair to have the taxpayers foot the bill for their publicity stunt.

Big Ben Strikes Back

In July, Andrea McNulty sued Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, claiming that he had sexually assaulted her.  The lawsuit sought $440,000 in damages from Roethlisberger and $50,000 in damages from Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, where the woman worked (and where the incident was alleged to have occurred).

It is certainly possible that an athlete would rape a woman.  In fact, in a lot of cases, I would give the women the benefit on the doubt.  However, in this particular case, I didn’t feel that she was believable.  The fact that a co-worker filed an affidavit claiming the McNulty bragged to her about the incident was not the reason for  my opinion.  Obviously, it is possible to buy the testimony of witnesses.

The main reason why I don’t believe Ms. McNulty is because she never filed criminal charges.  Perhaps I’m missing a key element here – if you wanted to see the perpetrator punished, why wouldn’t you file a criminal complaint and have them put behind bars?  After all, you wouldn’t want this to happen to someone else, right?  I can understand someone not filing charges if they didn’t want the rape to become public knowledge – but McNulty then turned around and made it public knowledge by filing the civil suit.  These two pieces don’t seem to fit together.  Perhaps I’m missing some important information …

Something that was immediately noticed by many people was the fact that Roethlisberger, in his denials, never said that he didn’t know McNulty or that he didn’t have sex with her.  He only said that he didn’t force himself on her – which left open the possibility of consensual sex.

On Friday, the other shoe dropped.  Roethlisberger counter-sued McNulty for extortion, abuse of process, and defamation of character.  Big Ben’s version of the events (supported by the affidavit from McNulty’s co-worker) was that  McNulty seduced him, and that the sex was consensual.  I’ll report further developments in these two cases.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here.  Don’t have sex with strangers.

Note: I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea here.  I definitely believe that rape / sexual assault is a very serious crime and that the punishment should be severe.  I simply don’t believe that a rape occured in this case.