PROVO — On the heels of the several rape allegations this year against collegiate athletes in Utah, one BYU player says he has received a phone message that he feels is threatening.
Rape is a serious offense. Accusations are not taken lightly, and while an accusation in January against several BYU players later proved unfounded, Provo police still are investigating an accusation leveled last month against several other BYU players.
False accusation of rape also should not be taken lightly, and Ibrahim Rashada, a freshman from Georgia, says a voice-mail message recorded on his cell phone is a threat.
Rashada, a defensive back on the Cougar football team, said that last week he received the message from a woman he met on a phone chat line. He let me listen to the voice mail:
"Look, (expletive) . . . you better stop talking (expletive) you (expletive) if you want to stay on that football team. Talk (expletive) to me again (expletive), I sure will get you kicked off that football team and say rape and what."
Rashada, a devout Muslim, said the message was "scary" and he felt threatened. He has taken the recording to BYU coaches and contacted an attorney.
Rashada first talked to the woman while he and friends were fooling around on a telephone dating service two weeks ago. Rashada provided a profile of himself but admits he made the mistake of leaving his cell phone number. "I was watching TV at the time and really wasn't into the conversation," Rashada said.
After other phone calls, Rashada agreed to arrange to meet the Salt Lake woman and her friends after BYU's game against USC in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Sept. 11. He arranged for the women to pick up tickets, Rashada said. After the game, he saw a group of women asking for him outside the locker room.
According to Rashada, he did not volunteer his identity because the woman who had described herself on the phone as petite did not match that description, she wore a nose earring and "I wasn't going to date somebody bigger than me," he said.
In a later telephone call, Rashada let it be known that he wasn't interested, because of deception in the description. Then he received the phone message he considered threatening on his cell phone.
This rape allegation is the fourth that has surfaced among BYU and Utah football players since January. In August a 17-year-old accused BYU freshmen of sexual assault. No charges have been filed in that case. Earlier this month a woman accused a University of Utah starting football player of rape. No charges were filed in that case following a police investigation.
We don't know for sure everything that happened in any of these situations. Police in Provo and in Salt Lake City decided that the incidents did not constitute rape in the BYU case in January and in the Ute case in September. The investigation continues into the August accusation. And police have not investigated Rashada's situation, but he wants to go on the offensive.
Rashada is perplexed, scared and filled with angst. He's learned that dating can be as complex as brain surgery — and it can get cloudy fast with something as simple as a phone.