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Federal Appellate Court Hears From Woman Who Accused Derrick Rose Of Sexual Assault


What does it take to be a sports hero? There's what they do on the court and what they do off. Those two things may be in conflict for Derrick Rose. He's a standout player on the Minnesota Timberwolves, pro basketball's most valuable player back in 2011, suffered for years from various injuries. And now he's back - an inspiring story, except that Rose was also accused of sexual assault back in 2013. Prosecutors never filed criminal charges. His accuser sued, and a jury did not find him liable. Yet the accuser also challenged that judgment, and a court hears her appeal today. Journalist Clinton Yates has been following this story for The Undefeated and spoke to Rachel Martin.

RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: Thanks for coming in.


MARTIN: So I suppose we should start with the allegation itself. What exactly is Derrick Rose accused of?

YATES: Derrick Rose and a group of friends were accused of going to his then-girlfriend's home in Los Angeles at the time and, basically, engaging in sex acts with her that she later claimed was not consensual. Now, the way that the timeline unfolded was that there was not enough evidence for a criminal trial, apparently, according to the LAPD.

So it goes to the federal civil court, and the three of them are deemed not liable, which is not not guilty. As a result, one could say, well, if they got off, they got off. That's what the court ruled. But the way they went about proving their case was something that, to me, did not sit well. And it was just another case of how toxic masculinity works in terms of not being able to prove rape allegations in a U.S. court.

MARTIN: The crux of Rose's defense, as I understand it, when this case was tried was that he didn't understand the term consent. Is that right?

YATES: When he was asked about that, what he said was, we men, we know why we're going over there. What was awkward about it was that he didn't really seem to understand not only just consent but what was wrong about this. And the reason why is because they used a classic tactic when it comes to sexual assault cases, again, which is, effectively, slut-shaming.

They were presenting what she looked like on Instagram, making a bunch of notes about her sexual past as if any of this is related to the consent at the time. It is not. So every defense at every state that they used was basically, Derrick Rose is a dude and, effectively, a sports star. And this woman is of ill repute. Therefore, we can't believe anything she says.

MARTIN: In the meantime, he's, like, made kind of a comeback on the court. Hasn't he?

YATES: Yeah. It should be understood that Derrick Rose was once an MVP in the NBA. He was a high-level player whose career got derailed by injury. A couple weeks ago, he scored 50 points in a game. And after that, he was receiving all sorts of accolades from various people around the sports world, including NBA athletes, whom I would say I respect, saying, there's no way you can't root for Derrick Rose. There's no way that you shouldn't consider this a great comeback story.

MARTIN: LeBron James, even.

YATES: Exactly. But it's not like he overcame anything. And I think that's the key point here. What he had to go through, if you want to even put it that way, was of his own doing.

MARTIN: The bottom line is you think it's premature to be celebrating him as a sports hero in this moment.

YATES: I think that a lot of people want to often look at any sort of situation that anyone overcomes or at least deals with, rather - pardon me - in an off-court manner and consider it a hurdle when, in fact, that's not what it is. He never seemed to have any real remorse for the situation from what I saw.

And, you know, I'm not out here to say Derrick Rose is a bad human being because I think there is something to be understood about what he doesn't know and understand, which is almost the saddest part about all this. If you ask somebody if they understand consent and they don't, that's kind of sickening to my stomach, frankly.

MARTIN: Clinton Yates - he's a columnist for The Undefeated. Thanks so much for coming in.

YATES: (Speaking French). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.