Hopefully by now you know that anytime the victim of a crime in this country is a White woman, the suspect often fits the profile: Black male, between the height of 4'11" & 8'5". Yes, and usually every Black man fitting that description within a 100 mile radius is considered a suspect. Now when the crime is rape, that 100 mile radius is widened to include the entire country. As the title of this post suggests, this next story involves a case of "date rape" that has not received any national media attention the likes of the Duke Lacrosse rape case a few years ago. As you can guess, the victim is White, and the accused or should I say the guy serving time for this crime is Black.
His name is Eric Frimpong, and yes, that's him in the pic above. Nowadays Eric goes by the name Prisoner F95488. He's currently serving a 6yr sentence for rape out in California. In case you were wondering why his name sounds so funny and unlike any generic African American name. I must tell you that his story, though typical, is very different from what he would have ever dreamed being an immigrant to this country from Ghana.
Eric Frimpong, 22, is from a village in the northern region of Accra, Ghana, on the west coast of Africa. A soccer player as a boy, he was “discovered” and recruited by a UCSB soccer coach who was in Ghana to scout other players. He arrived at UCSB in August 2005, with only a small bag of belongings. He became a starting mid-fielder on Coach Tim Vom Steeg’s 2006 NCAA championship soccer team. He is described as an excellent student, never in any trouble at UCSB or before, devoutly religious, and a warm, friendly, gentle soul. Everyone who met Eric came away with admiration and affection for this young man from West Africa. Eric was drafted by a professional soccer team, the Kansas City Wizards, and was set to graduate from UCSB with a degree in mathematics. UCSB soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg describes Eric as a wonderful young man who he cannot believe would commit rape. [source]Before moving along with this story, it's important to note that UCSB is ranked as one of the biggest party schools in the country as far as colleges go. I wanted to make that clear so as not to make the victim out to be just some isolated drunk chick on campus before reading further. In other words: pretty much everybody on campus gets drunk and party; however, they tend to do it more than any other school in the country. Even in this atmosphere Eric managed to maintain a 3.0 GPA as a double major in applied mathematics and business economics. Yes, not only was he the star of the soccer team that lead them to a national championship, he was also a very good student.
Now here's where it gets really interesting; pay close attention:
Frimpong's journey from soccer hero to convicted felon began a little more than halfway through his senior year. (The account that follows is based on police reports, interview transcripts, court proceedings and comments from trial observers.) The night of Feb. 16 began for Frimpong in the same place where he started most Friday nights, on the couch in his house at 6547 Del Playa Drive, watching a movie with housemates. His girlfriend, Yesenia Prieto, was working late, but Eric had reason to celebrate, fresh off an impressive 10-day tryout for the Wizards, so he showered and went to meet friends at a party at 6681 Del Playa Drive. It was outside that home, at about 11:30 p.m., that Frimpong met Jane Doe, a UCSB freshman. They struck up a conversation, then walked back to his house to play beer pong. They arrived just before midnight, and Eric introduced Jane to his roommates before taking her to the patio, where the two of them played beer pong for a few minutes until, according to Frimpong, Doe said she wanted to smoke, so they headed for the park next door. At the park, he says, Doe approached another male, who appeared to have followed them. When she walked back to Frimpong, she started kissing him, but he wasn't interested because she smelled of cigarettes. Doe became aggressive, he says, and stuck her hand down his pants. He pushed her away, then headed to the home of his friend, Krystal Giang, who'd been expecting him. By 4 a.m., he was in bed at Prieto's apartment.
About an hour and a half earlier, Jane Doe, accompanied by her sister and two friends, checked into Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital emergency clinic, claiming she had been raped. She was transferred to the Sexual Assault Response center downtown, where a nurse discovered a laceration to Doe's external genitalia and bruises on her body, findings consistent with sexual assault.
"Yesterday was a really good day," Doe told sheriff's detectives Daniel Kies and Michael Scherbarth when they arrived at her dorm room the next morning, according to a police transcript. The reason for cheer: The 18-year-old Doe had just regained her driver's license following a juvenile DUI conviction. At around 9 p.m. on Feb. 16, she went to a party with her sister, Elizabeth, and friends Mia Wolfson and Lakshmi Krishna. After stopping at a second party, Doe left the group and headed for a fraternity bash on Del Playa. "That's where I saw the guy," she told police.
From there, Doe's story is mostly consistent with Frimpong's, up to and including their game of beer pong. "He was really nice," she said. But their accounts differ sharply after that. According to Doe, the next thing she remembers is being on the beach, where the nice guy turned violent, knocking her to the ground, striking her in the face, holding her throat and raping her before fleeing. Having lost her purse, Doe walked to Del Playa, where she stopped a passerby, student Justin Hannah. Using his cell, she phoned a friend, her father and then Wolfson and Krishna, who picked her up around 1:30 a.m. Doe, who admitted to drinking heavily throughout the evening, couldn't remember anything between stepping into their car and going to the hospital -- a period of one hour -- but her friends would fill in the blanks: At first Doe didn't want to go to the hospital because she was worried about getting in trouble for drinking. But back at the dorm, her friends kept urging, and she relented. Sitting with the detectives that morning, she described her attacker as a black male who spoke with an "island accent" and had "big lips" and short hair. His name? "Eric, I think."
So after all of this Eric is picked up by the police for questioning:
Sometime around noon on Feb. 17, Kies and Scherbarth spotted Frimpong hanging out with friends at the park on Del Playa. When Kies asked if he would accompany them to the station to talk about "what happened last night," Frimpong agreed to go, despite being unsure what the detective meant. Once at the station, Kies reminded Frimpong that he had come voluntarily and asked him to describe what he'd been doing the previous night. According to the police transcript, Frimpong told Kies about watching a movie at home, then going to a party and eventually meeting Doe, whom he described as one of the "random soccer fans," and playing beer pong with her before heading to Giang's house and later to Prieto's. Kies then asked for Frimpong's consent to collect the clothes he'd worn the night before. "Yeah," Frimpong responded, "but I still don't know what's going on." Kies explained that the girl said that they'd "had sex" on the beach.
"Wow," Frimpong responded.
Kies then informed Frimpong that he was being detained and read him his rights. Minutes later, he explained the rape accusation. "I didn't have sex with her," Frimpong insisted. Charged with felony rape, he phoned Paul Monahan, who spread the word. Vom Steeg couldn't believe it: "I'm thinking, Frimpong? Rape? No way." (The coach later asked Frimpong directly. "I said, 'Eric, is there any chance you had sex but you thought maybe it was consensual?' He said, 'Tim, I never pulled my pants down.' I said, 'If you did this, DNA will prove it.' He said, 'Coach, I'm not stupid."
So the DNA results came back and guess what? None of Eric's DNA was found on the victim. Her DNA was found on him proving that he did tell the truth about her going down his pants and grabbing his nuts. Oh yeah, semen was found on her underwear as well as far as evidence is concerned; and it belonged to some guy she was having sex with?
Also, semen found on Doe's underwear didn't match Frimpong's -- but it was a match for that of Benjamin Randall, Doe's sexual partner throughout her freshman year. Randall told authorities that he and Doe had engaged in intercourse seven days before the rape; Doe said they'd had sex four days prior but that she thought she was wearing different underwear, and she told a nurse that they'd used a condom. (During the trial, Doe and Randall confirmed they'd been together at parties the night she met Frimpong. Randall testified that, while en route to a friend's house, he spotted Doe and Frimpong walking on Del Playa at about 11:40 p.m. Randall then called Doe, and she told him she was headed to "Eric's house to play beer pong." Under cross-examination by Sanger, Randall admitted, "I might've been a little upset. I guess you can call that jealousy." He also testified that after the call, he returned to his dorm at Santa Barbara City College, where he spent the night alone.)
Despite having DNA evidence matched to him, Randall was never a suspect. Neither was the man who retrieved Doe's purse, which she said she'd lost either on the beach or at Frimpong's home. It was delivered to the sheriff's department the next day, minus $30, by someone described in the police report as a "can recycler." But because of a "language barrier," he wasn't questioned.
Frimpong was the only suspect, even though there was no apparent sign of sexual activity -- no blood, semen, vaginal secretions -- or any scratches or other telltale marks of rape on his body or clothes. The absence of abrasions was odd. Doe told authorities she was wearing a "thicker ring" on her right ring finger and that she hit her attacker so hard, "all my knuckles were screwed up." There was also very little sand found on his clothes. (At the trial, Dianne Burns, a criminologist who examined the physical evidence, testified to the presence of two small vials' worth of sand in the cuffs of Frimpong's jeans and in one pocket.)
So there's no physical evidence connecting Eric to her as far as rape is concerned. That plus the inconsistencies of the victim should have been enough to vindicate him, right? It should be that simple, right?
Throughout the investigation and during the trial, Doe admitted to gaps in her memory. In her interview with detectives, she claimed she had consumed "a couple shots of vodka" before leaving her dorm. In an interview that April with assistant district attorney Mary Barron, the lead prosecutor, Doe said she'd consumed more throughout the evening. "I know I had beer," she said. "And I know I had rum." She also acknowledged that her memory after beer pong was hazy. "That's when it starts to, like, cut out," she told Barron. According to the transcript, Doe had little memory of going to the beach, and her recollection of the rape itself was scattered. Asked whether she recalled going outside to smoke, Doe said she "probably" smoked but didn't remember when. "I don't even know, since there's that chunk missing."
So what happened on the beach? Doe said Frimpong may have tried to kiss her, but when pressed by Barron she admitted, "I have no clue. I'm just assuming…" She also said, "I remember him biting me on my face," even though she had told the emergency room doctor she thought she'd been hit, and when questioned by detectives, she said she didn't know about being bitten -- despite Kies' saying, "That's definitely, most definitely, teeth marks, dude," about the bruise on her cheek. When Barron questioned her about it, Doe said, "But later, when they're, like, 'It looks like teeth marks' …I remember that happening."
Doe continued, "I saw him, like, feel around -- take off his belt -- or something on his pants -- I don't know." She said she remembered being penetrated, and "it felt like a penis." Barron asked if the attacker was the same person she'd played beer pong with. Doe said that while she couldn't recall going to the beach, she remembered the attacker's accent, his eyes ("They were white") and his lips ("They're big"). She was also fairly confident that the rape lasted "15 minutes at the most… but then, since there's that huge chunk of time that I don't remember, it could be anything."
In spite of all of this, Eric Frimpong is now sitting in prison serving a six year sentence. One testament to his mettle isb the fact that through all of this he managed to focus on his academics and graduate from college. Isn't that something? Sure it is, but what's sad is that even if he's ever vindicated by way of a new trial, him being an immigrant, he'll be deported back to Ghana.
Now you may not think race had anything to do with this, or see this as a miscarriage of justice. But considering that the county within which this took place is 2% Black and the population is somewhere around 450,000 I'd say it's obvious. I can't help but to think that if Eric were White like those Duke Lacrosse players a few years ago, and the victim were Black, the end of the story would be different.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. Is this just an isolated incident? Is this not something that is common in this country especially involving White women? Do you think he received a fair trial? Do you think him being a Black immigrant from Ghana had anything to do with the outcome? If I had a college bound son, would I be wrong in telling him to stay away from or beware of White girls? These are all questions I had in my head when I first came across this story. I'd really like to hear what you think.
Maybe it's because Eric's parents aren't wealthy or influential enough to get a District Attorney fired. Maybe it's because Nancy Grace hasn't covered this story. I don't know, but other than him being Black, maybe that's why his life isn't valuable enough for justice. Certainly there's a time and place for everything and it's called college as the old joke goes. Having said that, Eric Frimpong deserves better, and his situation right now is no laughing matter.