|June 17, 2011|
|Charges Dropped in Atlantis Rape Case|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Bahamian prosecutors have dropped rape charges against college baseball star Garrett Wittels and two friends, who were accused of sexual assault against two underage girls at the Atlantis Paradise resort in the Bahamas last December.|
The Miami Herald reported June 16 that authorities there apparently decided that evidence gathered did not warrant pursuit of the case.
Wittels’ case drew national scrutiny as he pursued a college record hitting streak earlier this year. It’s been a PR black eye for his school, Florida International University, as well as the Atlantis resort.
His attorney, Richard Sharpstein, told the Herald that the incident has had an “enormous and drastic effect” on Wittels and “his career can never be compensated.
Garrett Wittels, center, at the news conference last month.
Wittels, a junior, was not drafted by a Major League Team last week.
The two accusers, who were 17 at the time of the incident, said they each had at least three alcoholic beverages and were later assaulted after going to the rooms of the three men at about 2 a.m. Wittels and his two friends admit to having sex with the women, but contend the contact was consensual.
The Herald previously reported that the father of one of the women was accused of planning to hire an actress to falsely claim she was sexually assaulted at a sporting event, an accusation the man called “preposterous.”
School, Atlantis Take Image Hits
Florida International University came under fire earlier this spring when the school said Wittels would be allowed to play and pursue the NCAA record despite the charges hanging over his head.
ESPN was among sports media questioning the school’s decision, calling it “baffling that a player charged with a felony is even allowed to play.”
FIU in February held a press conference and threatened to remove reporters who asked about the rape charges.
Reporters ignored the warning but their questions about the charges went unanswered.
The story also put Atlantis’ name in a negative light in the South Florida press. There was no dispute among either side in the case that the girls were drinking at the resort while under the legal age of 18 for the Bahamas.
The story was not widely covered outside of Florida, a contrast to the media blitz that followed rape charges at Duke University in 2006.
Wittels ultimately fell short of the 58-game hitting record.
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