Justice

New Details About Peyton Manning Sexual Assault Surface

February 14th 2016

By:
Aron Macarow

Peyton Manning — star quarterback, recent Super Bowl champion, TV commercial aficionado — has always been viewed as a man with a solid reputation, but today, his unblemished character took a hit. Documents published by New York Daily News writer Shaun King made rounds on the Internet, giving new details about Manning's alleged sexual assault on a trainer during his time at University of Tennessee.

King's documents are the same ones obtained by USA Today in 2003 (which went unpublished) and they outline multiple incidents involving then student athletic trainer, Dr. Jamie Naughright, beginning when Manning was a quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers in 1996. They also summarize an alleged smear campaign by the Manning family to discredit Naughright and reveal new information that suggests that the university attempted to blame the sexual assault incident on a Black player instead of its star quarterback. It should be pointed out that the legal documents were filed by Naughright and are not official judicial findings; the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Peyton and Naughright Have a Long History

According to Shaun King's analysis of the 74-page document, the dispute between Manning and Naughright started before the purported incident in 1996, with something happening between the pair during Manning's first semester on campus in 1994. Unfortunately, the details of that event have been sealed and redacted from the permanent record, so it's not possible to say what occurred.

In 1996, the main assault allegedly happened in which Manning is reported to have exposed himself to Naughright during an exam:

[Naughright] was examining Manning to see why Manning was having pain in one of his feet and was crouched behind him when “entirely unprovoked, Peyton Manning decided to pull down his shorts and sit on Dr. Naughright’s head and face.”

As Naughright described it in a deposition entered into the court record: “It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up. … To get leverage, I took my head out to push him up and off.”

RELATED: What Happened When Kesha Reported Her Sexual Assault

In the documents, Naughright said that the university tried to convince her to pin the incident on a black player.

University of Tennessee allegedly asks victim to blame black player rather than Peyton Manning

University of Tennessee allegedly asks victim to blame black player rather than Peyton Manning

Tennessee associate trainer Mike Rollo claimed that Manning's genitals touched Naughright's face by accident, saying that Manning tried to moon fellow student-athlete Malcolm Saxon during an examination of his foot, leading to the face-to-genital contact. The documents reveal that Saxon failed to backup Rollo's version of events, saying in an affidavit that Manning never mooned him. He defended his position in a letter:

"I stuck to the truth and I lost my eligibility for it. My redshirt request sat on Mike Rollo's desk for months as the process was going forward...Peyton, you messed up. I still don't know why you dropped your drawers. Maybe it was a mistake, maybe not. But it was definitely inappropriate. Please take some personal responsibility here and own up to what you did. I never understood why you didn't admit to it...."

RELATED: Daniel Holtzclaw's Accusers Teach Us A Lot About Rape Culture

Materials published Saturday also suggest that Manning's father Archie Manning continued to try to discredit Naughright too.

Archie Manning: But she'd, she'd, shed been out, when she was a student trainer, that she has been out with a lot of black guys...

John Underwood (ghostwriter): Um, um.

Archie Manning: And she'd, she'd been up in the dorm before, I mean, hey, you know, they could have, you know, could have pulled stuff on her, too.

Based on the new report, it appears that these kind of attacks on Naughright's character continued for years, despite a confidentiality agreement that was signed when Manning and the sports trainer reached a settlement.

Turning a Blind Eye Isn't New in Sports

Making excuses for perpetrators of sexual assault happens often, and it seems like at the time, University of Tennessee officials didn't take Naughright's claims seriously.

And they're not alone in turning the blame toward the victim or in attempting to sweep the incident under the rug, particularly in the sports world. In 2014 Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice allegedly knocked out his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel. After TMZ released the footage from the elevator camera, there could be little doubt about what happened, with surveillance video clearly showing Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer. But what ensued next was a circus of victim-blaming, including ESPN anchor Stephen Smith telling viewers:

"But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions."

RELATED: Councilwoman Destroys CNN Anchor for Rape-Victim Shaming

Similarly, fans scrutinized Blackhawk's star Patrick Kane's accuser far more than Kane himself in 2015, after a 21-year-old college student claimed that the three-time Stanley Cup winner sexually assaulted her. In a statement described as "remarkable" and "rare" for siding so clearly against the alleged victim, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III even went as far as to refer to the investigation as "this so-called 'case'" and fans threatened a Chicago journalist for her continued coverage of the story.

Although some have suggested that Manning is lucky that social media wasn't around to highlight his misdeeds in 1996, these examples should make us wonder — would he have been held accountable then? It's hard not to notice the similarities that exist between these stories and Manning and Naughright, despite the lack of an official verdict in the case. USA Today covered Manning and Naughright in 2003, well after the firm establishment of social media and the story has been covered during the years since. Despite this, the scandal never stuck to Manning and fans have stayed by him, even leading Inquisitr to ask in 2014: "Should America reevaluate how it sees Peyton Manning?"

Perhaps now, that time has come.

ALSO: These Cartoons Nail Society's Problem With Sexual Consent