The Norman Police and the Cleveland County DA have had their say in the Joe Mixon case.
Now, it’s OU’s turn.
On Friday, the police wrapped up their three-week investigation, alleging that the Oklahoma freshman phenom punched a female student in the face during an altercation at a late-night hangout. The possible charges suggested in the affidavit: aggravated assault and battery, a felony, and/or acts resulting in gross injury, a misdemeanor.
The district attorney swiftly opted to go with the latter, citing the facts of the case, including that Amelia Molitor allegedly pushed, then slapped Mixon.
But no matter what she did or what a court of law ultimately does, Mixon must be suspended. The punishment handed down by Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops has to be something significant.
Violence against women — any violence against any woman — cannot be tolerated.
And here’s the truth, Sooner fans: you can rest assured that it’s only a matter of time before Castiglione and Stoops hand down punishment of Mixon.
OU punishes players who run afoul of the law.
Even though OU under Stoops has become known as a place that gives players second chances, it isn’t some pirate ship. Many a player has been allowed to stay on the team after making mistakes, then took full advantage of their chance at redemption. Dusty Dvoracek. Lynn McGruder. Ryan Broyles. Jaz Reynolds. Trey Franks.
Still, all of them were punished, having to miss anything from a few games to an entire season.
Read the affidavit in the Mixon case, and it’s obvious that he will be punished, too. He lunged at Molitor after she pushed him, leading with his head. Then when she slapped him, he punched her on the left side of the face with a closed right fist “knocking her into a table top and then to the ground where she laid motionless.”
Close your eyes and try to picture that.
Here are few details to help you — Molitor is 5-foot-6, 130 pounds, while Mixon is 6-foot-2, 210 pounds.
Yes, she pushed him. Yes, she slapped him. But he is broad and chiseled, eight inches taller and 80 pounds heavier. The aftermath of his punch broke four bones and knocked her off her feet.
Then, he walked out.
Those details are nauseating, even though Mixon was only charged with a misdemeanor. If we saw video of this altercation — open-record laws should allow it eventually — it would be every bit as stomach-churning as those blurry frames of Baltimore running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator.
Listen, I know that Mixon’s attorney, Kevin Finlay, wants you believe that Mixon did nothing wrong. He said Friday that Mixon was reacting instinctively to being racially slurred and physically assaulted. Well, according to the police affidavit, Molitor said she was reacting to Mixon using a homosexual slur against a friend of hers. That says nothing of him lunging at her or punching her in the face.
Seems like Mixon wasn’t exactly sitting on his hands in the corner.
“Justice knows no gender bias,” Finlay said, “and we do not believe that Joe’s actions were criminal in nature.”
A court will ultimately decide guilt and innocence, and under the law, a person can react with like force. Someone uses their hands against you, you can use your hands to defend yourself. Someone pushes you with their hands, you can punch them with your fist, but that doesn’t make you a good person.
And when the person punched is a woman and the person punching is a man, it strikes a nerve.
So, Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops will act.
They are already facing lots of questions about their football team’s tolerance of violence against women. Even though a Title IX investigation determined that Frank Shannon should be suspended for a year after being accused of sexual assaulting a female student, the linebacker is still taking first-team reps in practice as the case is appealed. Even though a Columbia, Mo., police report alleged that Dorial Green-Beckham pushed a woman down a flight of stairs while still at Missouri, the Sooners have added the receiver to their roster.
But even if Shannon and Green-Beckham had squeaky clean records, Castiglione and Stoops would act in Mixon’s case.
“I’m sensitive to all those issues,” Stoops said when asked about violence against women during ESPN’s “car wash” interviews earlier this summer. “I think all coaches are. In fact, my wife and I sponsor quite a few things in the Oklahoma area in regards to domestic issues, in particular violence against women.”
The coach and his boss have to be mindful of what could happen if Mixon remains part of the team. If the running back becomes the kind of superstar he’s projected to be, part of his narrative will always be this incident. Every national television broadcast of every game he plays will mention it. And what if that video becomes public, as it should? The clip of Mixon slugging Molitor could be shown repeatedly.
What if the kicker to the episode is “and he served no suspension”?
Castiglione and Stoops want no part of that. They aren’t averse to second chances, but they aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to conduct detrimental to the program either. They will punish Joe Mixon.
In a case that has been difficult to pin down, this much is sure.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.