• Michael Millstein

Benjamin Mendy Pt. 2: New Allegations or “The Deshaun Watson Free Pass”

Image via The Athletic

If the allegations explored by part one of the Benjamin Mendy saga did not suggest the possibility of guilt, perhaps two new charges of rape will do the trick.[1] To recap, Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City’s feature left-back, is currently being held without bail after Judge McGarva’s decision to deny Mendy bail back in late August.[2] At that point in time, Mendy found himself confronted with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault, with three of the rape charges stemming from incidents with women under the age of eighteen.[3] With an already seemingly insurmountable burden to overcome in order to prove his innocence, on November 16, 2021, Mendy learned of two additional charges of rape filed against him.[4] This now brings the charges to six counts of rape and one for sexual assault.[5] Unsurprisingly, the court yet again denied Mendy bail, as he will now likely await his January 24, 2022 court date while behind bars.[6]

Despite the differences in severity for their alleged acts, the stark contrast in the handling of the Benjamin Mendy allegations versus the Deshaun Watson allegations highlights a proclivity for trepidation with regards not only to believing victims when the perpetrator is an athlete, but also for swinging the iron fist of justice. Have we decided to set the standard that only the most heinous of crimes can receive an adequate judicial proceeding? Though he has not yet formally been charged with a crime, Watson faces 10 criminal complaints and 22 civil lawsuits for sexual assault.[7] While Watson cannot be detained without a formal criminal charge, it is fair to ask why this process has taken so long.

Even more egregious, Watson, who is currently in the process of trying to settle the civil claims, has not faced any discipline from the NFL.[8] The only reason fans have not seen Watson take the field this season for the Houston Texans stems from the franchise’s decision not to play the quarterback.[9] Furthermore, Watson has frequently vocalized his unwillingness to play for the Texans, demanding a trade to a new team.[10] So, while some may believe the Texans refuse to play Watson due to the ongoing legal dispute, the Texans may instead be attempting to satisfy an ulterior motive by keeping Watson healthy and maintaining his trade value if these cases do in fact settle.

In spite of these numerous allegations, the Miami Dolphins reportedly contacted the Texans and set up a tentative trade deal for Watson, with a conditioned term that the deal would only go through if Watson settled his claims by the trade deadline.[11] On the other hand, Manchester City have removed Mendy’s merchandise from their team store and have fully disassociated from the player pending the results of the trial.[12] In addition, the FIFA video game has even gone as far as to remove Mendy from the game.[13] Watson has faced none of the same reprehension.[14] Are these situations truly so attenuated to call for such a dire discrepancy in the response to the alleged actions of Mendy and Watson? Due process is a vital part of society, but its very existence does not explain this divergence.

[1] Michael Millstein, Bail’s (Not) To Mendy, Conduct Detrimental (Sept. 24, 2021), https://www.conductdetrimental.com/post/bail-s-not-to-mendy; Benjamin Mendy: Manchester City footballer charged with two further rapes, BBC NEWS (Nov. 16, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-59306545. [2] Josh Halliday, Benjamin Mendy: Footballer remanded in custody on rape charges, The Guardian (Aug. 27, 2021), https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/27/benjamin-mendy-footballer-remanded-in-custody-on-charges. [3] Benjamin Mendy: Manchester City defender appears in court after being charged with four counts of rape and one of sexual assault, Sky News (Aug. 27, 2021), https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11679/12392150/benjamin-mendy-manchester-city-defender-appears-in-court-after-being-charged-with-four-counts-of-rape-and-one-of-sexual-assault. [4] BBC News, supra note 1. [5] Id. [6] Id.; Benjamin Mendy: Manchester City defender charged with two additional counts of rape, ESPN (Nov. 16, 2021), https://www.espn.com/soccer/manchester-city-engman_city/story/4521562/benjamin-mendy-manchester-city-defender-charged-with-two-additional-counts-of-rape. [7] Mike Florio, Commissioner cites lack of information for absence of Deshaun Watson decision, Pro Football Talk (Oct. 26, 2021), https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/10/26/commissioner-cites-lack-of-information-for-absence-of-deshaun-watson-decision/. [8] Id. [9] Aaron Reis, timeline of Deshaun Watson sexual assault lawsuits: Trade won’t happen before deadline, The Athletic (Oct. 26, 2021), https://theathletic.com/2496073/2021/10/26/timeline-of-deshaun-watson-sexual-assault-lawsuits-lawyer-for-texans-owner-tried-to-broker-mediation/. [10] Id. [11] Id. [12] Kevin Dotson, Benjamin Mendy: Manchester City defender facing two additional rape charges, CNN (Nov. 16, 2021), https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/16/football/benjamin-mendy-rape-charges-manchester-city-spt-intl/index.html. [13] Rhodri Cannon, Benjamin Mendy removed from FIFA 22 as he awaits trial, The athletic (Sept. 29, 2021), https://theathletic.com/news/benjamin-mendy-removed-from-fifa-22-as-he-awaits-trial/4PJOKqxFN707/. [14] Reis, supra note 9.