The story of prisoner F95488
The story of prisoner F95488 Eric Frimpong was a rising soccer star. Now he's a convicted rapist serving jail time
By Sam Alipour
ESPN The Magazine
Erin Saldana/Daily NexusEric Frimpong, seen at his trial in 2008.
This story appears in the July 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
It's March 3, 2008, a brilliant day in Santa Barbara. But for Eric Frimpong, it feels like hell. He's in Superior Court, encircled by sheriff's deputies, making one more trip to the Department 2 courtroom. This is his last stop on the outside for a while, a painful reminder of how far he has fallen. He left his native Ghana in 2005 to play soccer for UC Santa Barbara; a year later he became a campus hero while leading the Gauchos to their first-ever national championship. If the immigrant experience can have a sound, Frimpong's sound was a raucous stadium. But in 2007, just weeks after being selected by the Kansas City Wizards in the MLS draft, he was accused of raping another student on the beach near his house. Now he's a convicted felon.
Frimpong enters the courtroom, which is packed with students and parents, former teammates and coaches -- row upon row of supporters. They've come for the sentencing that concludes a trial that has rocked this community: People v. Eric Frimpong. Or more accurately, People v. Eric Frimpong and His People.
It would seem that as a country we have come so far, but when you read about things like this you realize very quickly how much more time we need to develop as a nation. This is a young man who came to this country to live out his dream. He didnt do anything other then what so many people have done in the past.
Although the evidence clearly proved that this young man was innocent, he was still found guilty.
There's a rumble in the gallery. If his supporters could chime in now, they'd say that the kid in the prison garb has never spoken an unkind word or acted aggressively toward anyone. They would remind the court of the points made at trial: that his accuser was a woman with little memory of what happened that night because of a near-toxic blood alcohol level; that Frimpong's DNA wasn't found on the victim; that semen found on her underwear belonged to a jealous boyfriend, a white student who was never a suspect. They would argue that overzealous law enforcement was determined to nail a high-profile athlete, facts be damned, and that this was the Duke lacrosse case all over again -- except that the defendants in the Duke case were white men from affluent families with the means to navigate America's justice system, unlike Frimpong, who is poor and an immigrant.
Its sad that although he has been convicted of this crime he still has no ill feelings towards the US. People from all over the world have been upset at what is going on here. We often as Americans tell other countries about their justice system and how people should be fairly tried, but yet we still have cases like this in the American Justice System. This young man does not deserve this at all.
So in the end this young man was found guilty and still has no voice. People have come together all over the internet are mobilizing a grassroots effort to get him a new trial. Get involved.