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September 12th, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


State Attorney: Losing College Scholarship Adequate Punishment for Star Athlete Who Raped Underage Victim

Comments show a concerning pattern regarding rape, victims, and punishment

Tampa, FL – Incumbent State Attorney Mark Ober has been under fire for controversial comments he made about a child victim raped by an older man.[1]  Ober had initially declined to file any charges until local media coverage shamed him into re-opening the investigation.  During a recent debate, he suggested the child, who had been turned into a sex slave by her abuser, shared some of the blame for the crime because “She was with him voluntarily.”  The comments have been widely condemned by local and national press,[2] as well as by the victim’s mother, who said that Ober’s comments are why victims hesitate to report sexual abuse.[3]

Ober, who characterized concern over his comments as “pettiness,”[4] has yet to apologize for his remarks.  Instead, he issued a statement saying he is “committed to bringing justice to many victims.”[5]  Recently resurfaced news reports, however, show this is not the first time Ober has made controversial comments about the sexual assault of a minor.

In 2004, three Plant High School athletes and a fourth former student between the ages of 17 and 19 gang-raped a 14-year-old girl who had been coaxed into drinking alcohol excessively.  Ober, who was State Attorney at the time, reduced the charges to battery, against the wishes of the victim.  As a result of the plea deals offered by the State Attorney’s Office, the rapists avoided any jail time and did not have to register as sex offenders.[6]

At the time, a former Assistant State Attorney criticized Ober for his handling of the Plant High rape case, saying it was an example of how Ober gives preferential treatment to high-profile attorneys.  In response, according to the Tampa Bay Times:

[Mark Ober] said the four accused did not go unpunished, noting that one of the accused, a star baseball player who graduated in May, lost a college scholarship.[7]

As he did regarding the sex slave victim, Ober then criticized the Plant High rape victim, saying she was not emotionally capable of going to trial.[8]  Ober’s comments contradicted the victim’s own statement pleading for her assailants to be charged and punished: “They RAPED me. I did not have sex with them,” she wrote.[9]

Ober, seeking his fifth term, faces former federal prosecutor Andrew Warren in the November election.  In early August, before Ober’s recent controversial comments, Warren released an initiative to refocus the State Attorney’s Office on crimes impacting families, including murder, rape, and domestic violence, all of which increased in Hillsborough County last year.[10]

[1] Creative Loafing, Sept 5th, 2016 [View the article here]

[2] Tampa Bay Times, Sept 7th, 2016 [View the article here]

[3] SaintPetersblog.com, Sept 9th, 2016 [View the article here]

[4] SaintPetersblog.com, Sept 9th, 2016 [View the article here]

[5] Tampa Bay Times Sept 9th, 2016 [View the article here]

[6] St. Petersburg Times, April 7th, 2004 [View the article here]

[7] St. Petersburg Times, August 24th, 2004 [View the article here]

[8] St. Petersburg Times, August 24th, 2004 [View the article here]

[9] St. Petersburg Times, April 7th, 2004 [View the article here]

[10] VoteAndrewWarren.com, August 3rd, 2016 [View the article here]


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