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Believe Women, Not Jung-ho Kang

Put aside the shine of celebrity and remember there is a potential female victim Photo by Charles LeClaire/USA Today

Put aside the shine of celebrity and remember there is a potential female victim
Photo by Charles LeClaire/USA Today

It’s the midway point of the baseball season and, suddenly, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking pretty good. They have won eight of their last ten ballgames heading into the All-Star break. The bullpen is on point, the team is shifting towards its high-upside youth, and after the worst June in years there might at least be some buzz around the team through the rest of the summer. All of these great things are happening. But I just don’t care.

That’s because Jung-ho Kang allegedly drugged and raped a woman in Chicago last month. Acknowledging how irrelevant my personal feelings are in this situation, the allegations make me very uncomfortable. Kang is a person whom I’ve interacted with; a person that I liked and respected. Not that I know him especially well, we’ve only spoken in a professional capacity (through a translator nonetheless), but it’s strange to have interacted with a person who could have committed such a heinous act.

Here are the details that we know: Last month while the Pirates were in Chicago, Kang met a 23-year old woman on Bumble, a dating app, and met her in his hotel room at around 10:00 PM. The victim stated that Kang gave her a drink and, upon drinking it, she immediately lost consciousness. She reportedly woke up in a car on her way home with only vague recollections of Kang sexually abusing her. The woman had a rape kit done two days later and went to the police 10 days later.

“We have been made aware of the allegation that has been made against Jung-ho Kang,” Pirates President Frank Coonelly said in an official statement. “We take allegations of this type extremely seriously.”

Currently, there has not been a police report published. Beyond Coonelly’s statement, Kang and the Pirates have been mum as well. But while it’s irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that Kang is guilty, it’s also important to remember that [EDIT: in the court of public opinion] the burden of proof lies on his shoulders rather than on the victim’s.

For some reason, the public tends to twist logic to make excuses whenever athletes screw up. It’s a healthy practice to never read the comment sections on, well, pretty much any article. But it’s especially true when dealing with issues of sexual abuse and even more true when the abuser is a famous person.

“The entire group will fall behind the accused and deny an offense has been committed,” Dr. Claire Walsh, director of the University of Florida’s sexual assault recovery program, told the New York Times in 1990. “The entire community associated with this group will come to its defense.”

Here are a handful of the comments from the Post-Gazette’s Facebook post of the Kang article that illustrate that point:

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 12.11.07 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 12.06.54 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 12.10.25 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 12.06.30 PM

Even if this woman went to Kang’s hotel room with the intentions of having consensual sex with him, that doesn’t mean she can be drugged and raped without the rapist facing any repercussions. And it’s remarkable how many people are convinced that so many women harbor the sociopathic urge to extort men by pretending to be raped. The FBI Uniform Crime Report in 1996 and the United States Department of Justice in 1997 stated that only eight percent of rape accusations in the United States were regarded as false. So while that situation isn’t impossible, it should be far from the first conclusion one jumps to when forming an opinion on a subject such as this.

No, the first thing that one should do when a woman says she has been sexually abused is to believe her. I’ll say that a few more times: Believe women. Believe women. Believe. Women. In the court system, people are innocent until proven guilty. The court of public opinion doesn’t work like that and it is dangerous to immediately assume that the victim is a liar. When a woman steps forward, especially to accuse a rich, famous person of rape, it takes a lot of guts and she deserves respect rather than ridicule.

Very little is known about the victim in this case, yet people seem very comfortable assuming that she is a conniving, promiscuous gold digger. Meanwhile, we know quite a bit about Jung-ho Kang. He is a professional athlete, held upon a high pedestal in America as well as his home country of South Korea. His multinational appeal will likely earn him the benefit of the doubt, even though it should probably register the opposite reaction.

In 1996, Peggy Sanday, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, found that sexual assaults are more prevalent in some societies than others; tribal societies that emphasize interpersonal violence, male dominance, and sexual separation are more likely to rape. Kang fits into that two of those tribes. While baseball is not typically lumped in with more physical sports such as football, hockey, or basketball, the clubhouse is still extremely male dominated. And when a man has the unquestioned support of an entire community, like many athletes in Pittsburgh do, it’s easy for that man to act without considering the consequences.

Also, South Korea has a notable rape problem. The World Economic Forum ranks South Korea 117 out of 142 countries for gender equality, worst among developed nations. While there are far fewer violent crimes in South Korea than there are in America, nearly 90 percent of the victims who reported violent crimes were women. The South Korean police and court system are largely incompetent when handling these situations, quick to deflect blame from offenders toward victims and willing to bend over backwards to acquit men of violence charges. Rape victims have been called “gold diggers” by authorities and are generally discouraged from speaking out.

Certainly, this is not to say that most male athletes or South Koreans are inclined toward abusing women. That’s untrue. There is no reason why Kang’s actions should paper over the good that the Pirates do for the community. Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier recalled the Pirates partnering with the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh for a domestic violence awareness event and the “Pitch For Hope” Women’s Baseball Clinic at PNC Park, which benefitted Glimmer of Hope, a local organization funding the only under-40 breast cancer study in the country. As sports fans, we’re all just rooting for laundry. But we should take solace in knowing that the majority of the people wearing those Pirates uniforms are good people who are worthy of our support.

But rape is a cultural phenomenon, one that both organized sports and the Republic of South Korea apparently accommodate. The court of public opinion should not give Kang the benefit of the doubt just because he is an athlete. We, as a society, should not assume a woman is lying just because she accused a person who happens to have a lot of money. The details of this case will roll out over time, but for the moment it is important to realize that a victim-blaming rape culture exists and will continue to permeate until we acknowledge that it’s a problem.

About Kurt Hackimer (9 Articles)
Lifelong Pittsburgher and unabashed yinzer. Credentialed Pirates and Penguins reporter. Win It For Us blog owner. Baseball fan, dog lover, and classic pro wrestling aficionado.
Contact: Twitter

15 Comments on Believe Women, Not Jung-ho Kang

  1. I fully agree that ppl shouldn’t dismiss this woman. Kang could’ve done everything she claimed. And if so he needs to be dealt a swift and harsh penalty whether it hurts the bucs or not. But I think this column leans too far to the other side as well. Everyone should reserve their opinions until the facts are presented no matter which side u take. There are lots of questions here. Why was she at his room?, why did it take 2 days to go to the hospital or so long to file. These types of questions are best left to the police. They obviously aren’t rushing to conclusions or decisions. So neither should we. Let the professionals do their job and come to a well informed conclusion. Once all the evidence has been gone over, the facts will be laid out for us. Until then everyone should stay out of it. Its the justice systems job to sort through it, not ours.

  2. People certainly shouldn’t assume he is innocent, but you gravely misunderstand the workings and spirit of the justice system if you think the burden of proof lies on the accused’s shoulders.

  3. It’s irresponsible to jump to conclusions about either party’s guilt in situations like this. The fact of the matter is, regardless of how much your pretend “court of public opinion” would like to sway readers’ opinions, in this country people are innocent until proven guilty, and should be treated as such. I’m not saying rally behind Kang, I’m not saying that the victim is a lying gold digger, I’m saying reserve judgement until we actually know what happened. Jumping to conclusions is never a good idea. If Kang is guilty, throw him in jail, deport him, and burn every jersey. But let’s wait until we actually know if he is before we condemn him completely.

    The below quote perfectly describes what’s wrong with this article:

    “But while it’s irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that Kang is guilty, it’s also important to remember that the burden of proof lies on his shoulders rather than on the victim’s.’

    Innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Innocent until proven guilty.

  4. Adam Shackleford // July 14, 2016 at 12:44 PM // Reply

    by your words she is to be believed, so we should take Kang and lock him up in jail until trial. i mean she is to believed so kang HAS to be guilty then. tou cant take everything she says at face value. she accused Kang. the burden of proof lies with her not Kang.

  5. Rape is the only f**king crime where the victim has to prove *their* innocence.

  6. Actually you’re innocent until proven guilty, so technically the burden of proof is on the prosecution

    • And that is a lovely idea, if it were actually true. But let’s face it, the victim of a rape always has to prove why they *didn’t* have it coming (alcohol, short skirts, didn’t fight “enough”, etc.) Why can’t we assume there are not millions of sociopaths trying to ruin lives with false rape accusations?

  7. Are you sure that the “facts” you presented in your column are actually facts. That they met on bumble and they were in a hotel room together ect. ect.? Also I’m sick of this shtick of the columnist accusing “soceity” of victim blaming for some people (not all of soceity) stating that a woman should not put themselves in dangerous situations. If I’m walking in a notoriously bad part of town at 3am and get beat up and robbed my wife would say what the hell were you doing there at 3am? That’s not mitigating the criminal’s role in the crime as the sole perpetrator and is, simultaneously, a valid question to ask. When it comes to violence against women, soceity is not the problem, sports is not the problem, and S. Korea is not the problem, rapists are the problem period, end of discussion

  8. It’s not the “court of public opinion” that is the real problem in cases like these, rather it’s the “court of media opinion”, who condemn the accused sports stars from the first moment of accusation, instead of allowing the legal process to play out before continuously shaming/bashing the accused…just as this column has shown. By the time the legal process plays out in cases such as this, despite whether they are charged with a crime or not, let alone convicted or not, the athletes reputation has been dragged through the mud hundreds of times by the media, and takes years, if ever, to rebuild.

  9. This statement: “it’s also important to remember that the burden of proof lies on his shoulders rather than on the victim’s,” is unbelievably ignorant and erroneous, at least in the United States of America. No blog should be accepting contributions from someone who’s this totally ignorant of America’s legal traditions and fundamental constitutional rights.

    • Kurt Hackimer // July 17, 2016 at 7:25 PM // Reply

      I figure since a dude with a Wikipedia page is joining the conversation, I should probably comment.

      You’re right. The statement in question lacked context and was a mistake. This article was meant to comment on the public reaction to Kang’s and other similar well-publicized accusations, not to suggest that a defendant’s basic legal rights be ignored in this or any other situation. It was my intention to introduce the public’s reaction and legal process as separate issues that abide by very different rules, but I didn’t adequately convey that point. I stand by the rest of my article and, after some internal debate, I decided to edit that portion of the article to provide more appropriate context. That wasn’t the impression that I intended to make.

  10. You should be absolutely ashamed by this article. It is never, NEVER the responsibility of the accused to prove their innocence! The burden of proof is always on the accuser, as it F-ing should be! Making statements like this is truly troubling. But hey, why let evidence and facts get in the way?

  11. The Bumble App is a one way app. Women can contact men. Men cannot use it to contact women. A scammer could use this to set up a naïve ballplayer. She could …
    1. contact him
    2. meet him at his hotel
    3. Bang his socks off, while capturing a load of Korean semen for evidence
    4. take a date rape drug on her way to catch a cab, so that the drug is in her system, when she’s examined.

    I’m not saying this is what happened. BUT, if I were a scammer, looking to set up a rich ballplayer, that’s how I’d do it.

  12. It is highly unusual for a woman to go to the man’s residence on the very first meeting, especially from a dating app. Believe it or not, there ARE women not looking for a relationship at all but rather are hookers or money-fleecing con artists. Why would he need to drug her if she shows up at his hotel room? She even refuses to cooperate with the police: “Jung Ho Kang’s alleged assault victim, ‘despite numerous attempts, we have additional questions for the victim but she has not made herself available to police.” Does that not raise a couple of red flags?

    “Believe women. Believe. Women.” Really? Just blindly believe women? Sure, that turned out great on Rolling Stone’s coverage on UVA didn’t it.

  13. “In court people are innocent until proven guilty.” LOL. That’s what they tell you. Civics class in public schools teach this. We got civil rights ect… You’ve not been in court much have you? It’s lies. Sure if you have $ for an attorney you have your civil rights. If you’re poor, you are in for some serious abuse of power. Here in CA some of the most corrupt courts in America judges make up rules as they go along. Right to a hearing? Not always. Temporary rulings become permanent by inaction by the courts.
    Let me tell you a good joke… The California Judcial Commssion. Appeals are for those who can afford a lawyer. There is almost nothing that can or is done about routine violations of civil rights.

    Women make false accusations more often than you might like to think. Harvard says 25% of rape claimes are false! Ask I’ll email you their study. Women make accusations a lot & corrupt courts devoid of honesty carry out vendettas. I’ve know of two guys over my life time in the local community who raped a woman. I know three who were found to be falsely accused by a vengeful woman. I’ll never believe jail time is warranted on accusations without evidence. I very well might believe the accuser but without evidence I can’t be ok with a guilty verdict. In the court of law you’re treated guilty until proven innocent, while saying innocent until proven guilty.

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