Monday, July 17, 2006

Defending Tibbetts

It’s probably rather hard to be popular and defend Billy Tibbetts, a player whose past has haunted and shamed him on every one of his 14 pro hockey stops the past 11 years.

But what I will say is that if you want to slam Tibbetts's latest bid for a chance to play in the NHL, at least do so with an informed opinion of how and why he went to jail for more than three years as a youngster.

It makes for an easy headline, for journalists and bloggers alike, to brand a man ‘hockey’s Mike Tyson’ — even when that’s clearly not the case.

Of course, it’s a better story that way. But there’s something to be said for evaluating subtleties and seeking the truth behind any story you hear.

Say what you will about Tibbetts’s conduct on the ice and his demeanour off of it, he deserves whatever hockey career his talents dictate. I can do without any more self-righteous — and uninformed — blithering about why he deserves less.

He’s 31 years old and has clearly moved on. It’s time we did so as well.

19 Comments:

At 6:57 PM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous scott said...

I don't know what happened either way. I have read both accounts you linked to. But you're a journalist, and I hope you don't consider it professional to just take a man's word for it and state that that's an "informed account." I assume you've checked out both stories and verified that his is the truth?

 
At 7:28 PM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tibbetts was only found guilty on the one charge, and received a suspended sentence and probation. Seem to me his version of events checks out.

 
At 8:25 PM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

Personally I never cared about his off ice issues. He played 9 games as a Flyer and even in just those 9 games one could see his temper problem at least in 2001/02 on the ice.
I never understood why Clarke traded Manderville for him.

He was 17 for freakin sake. Sally and everyone else needs to get over it. He paid his debt how little that was. If people didn’t like his punishment they should focus their energy on changing the law.

 
At 8:30 PM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous Steve said...

James,
This is what you're defending (this is from the Aug. 14, 2000 Ottawa Sun):

"Tibbetts pleaded guilty March 30, 1994, to raping a 15-year-old girl at an outdoor drinking party in Scituate, Mass. He was 17 at the time.

The judge called the crime "brutal" but did not sentence Tibbetts to jail.

Instead, he was given a suspended sentence of 3-5 years and four years of probation.

On April 27, 1994, he was given a suspended sentence of six months, 18 months probation and was fined $ 625 on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and intimidating a witness.

Tibbetts was arraigned again July 12, 1995, in Hingham (Mass.) District Court for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a BB gun. He was found guilty and sentenced to 21/2 years in prison. He also was found to have violated his parole."

I urge you to go back and read the June 1996 coverage in the Patriot Ledger, which lays out the sickening BB gun incident.

Tibbetts got quite a few free passes because of his hockey talent. One might argue those free passes did more harm than good.

I'm a bit surprised you're shocked people are uncomfortable with the assaults and the statutory rape (which according to Tibbetts, she started) and the violence (which Tibbetts says the drug dealer deserved).

I wonder how many of his victims have moved on as well as Tibbetts.

 
At 8:59 PM, July 17, 2006, Blogger The Acid Queen said...

James, I respect you a great deal--but I just can't side with you on this.

Billy Tibbets has done nothing but engage in "blaming the victim" whenever asked about these incidents--she deserved it, he asked for it, I'm just misunderstood...take your pick. At no time has Tibbets ever said that he's sorry he didn't make different/better decisions in his life, and at no time has he ever said anything that makes it sound like he's the least bit remorseful about what he's done.

I don't call that moving on. It's more like running away.

 
At 9:49 PM, July 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not familiar with the story or situation, but I saw that Tibbets has been banned from two Boston summer leagues. link

 
At 8:11 AM, July 18, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

Tibbetts is obviously a disturbed individual--trouble like the trouble he has experienced does not just follow an innocent person around in their life. To defend a personality such as his is a tough thing to do, but you do have a point in that other athletes accused of similar offenses have been forgiven much more quickly. I'm sure most fans remember Doug Gilmour's getting caught misbehaving in St. Louis with a live-in teenage girlfriend. And of course Scott Stevens, Neil Sheehy, and Dale Hunter were accused of restraining a woman against her will and sexually assaulting her in the back of a limousine after a rare Capitals playoff series victory. American football players like Christian Peter and Jake Plummer have been accused of sexual assault, and baseball's Lastings Milledge had a similar incident with an underage girl a few years back. All of these athletes were forgiven their shameful and hateful conduct.

With that being said, however, do you defend Tibbets along these lines of logic, or more from the point that he has paid his debt to society? Most people would argue that a suspended sentence for a statutory rape conviction is no punishment at all. Those who feel that a 17-year old should be forgiven for statutory rape might feel differently about it if the victim was in their family, or if Tibbets' crime involved more physical violence. The guy is obviously a time bomb.

 
At 12:17 PM, July 18, 2006, Anonymous rajeev said...

who other than you is uninformed here, james? i knew that already from your discography of posts, but now you have added added arrogant and mysoginist to your resume. well done.

an individual questions the publicized employment of a convicted rapist (that's what he is, regardless of your views on it) and you call her uninformed and blithering. nice. your posts on social commentary make your posts on hockey look tom benjamin-esque.

 
At 12:52 PM, July 18, 2006, Anonymous grace said...

Alright, everyone needs to take a deep breath here.

I can see Mirtle's point of view. 17 and 15 aren't that different in ages. I didn't see in the interview of 20 questions where he blamed a victim for giving fellatio. A few months later and it would have been okay.

As for shooting a drug dealer in the butt with a bb gun. Haven't we all wanted to do that? Some would be rewarded with parades here in vancity for doing such a thing.

We've forgiven many crimes in hockey. Heatley for killing a player while driving, MacTavish for manslaughter, Bertuzzi for assaulting Steve Moore. Why the hate-on for this particular incident.

I realize when the word "rape" is used people get all up in a tizzy but I view all crimes as equal where victims are concerned and what makes one person more of a victim than others?

We've all done things in our lives that, if put under a microscope and printed about daily, we'd always have a stigma attached. Why not give people second chances when we've been given so many ourselves without the added pressure of being in the spotlight for our misdeeds?

If he's talented enough and can play in the NHL, why not?

 
At 1:15 PM, July 18, 2006, Anonymous Doogie2K said...

Weren't Dino Ciccerelli and Kristian Huselius (the latter in '05 while playing in Sweden) also accused of rape during their careers? Me, I say find a standard and apply it equally. I'd prefer that standard be excommunication from the hockey and sports world for the guilty, but other considerations ($) make that unfortunately impractical if the name is of any note.

Regarding the current case, I ahve two thoughts. First, if it was consensual -- merely regretted rather than unwanted -- 17 and 15 is not a huge deal to me. There were three or four 17/15 or 18/16 couples in my small high school, and I'm sure at least one of those did something they both enjoyed. More than two years is seriously pushing it at those ages, and I'd definitely oppose it if it were my own child, but two? Feh. I've always subscribed to the half-plus-seven rule, anyway (do the math, it works). If he simply has a bad temper and worse luck with the law, well, not like the NHL's never employed those types before.

On the other hand, if it wasn't consensual after all, then yeah, I'm totally behind the demonization. If ever there was a crime deserving of more punishment than it typically receives, at least in Canada, it's definitely rape, statutory or otherwise, and for that matter, child abuse in general. Reading about suspended sentences, token sentences, and acquittals based on fearful victims turns my stomach and makes me violently mad. We can never advance as a society until we take a better stance on abuse, particularly violent/sexual abuse.

 
At 1:28 PM, July 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was consentual. the law here in mass is pretty strict:
Under the law, a person under the age of 16 may not consent to having
"sexual intercourse" or "unnatural sexual intercourse." Therefore anyone who has
sex with a person under 16 does so without that person's consent. It is rape.
Even if a person under 16 says "yes", having sex with a person under 16 is a
crime.

 
At 2:57 PM, July 18, 2006, Anonymous rajeev said...

it's seems mirtle's basis for calling the demonization uninformed is tibbett's own claims that it was consensual and that the girl was pursued and acted upon him. he takes the words of a convicted rapist speaking in own self-defense to be the truth, without any corrobation. that's good journalism.

 
At 5:39 PM, July 18, 2006, Anonymous grace said...

rajeev, given the fact the victim hasn't spoken to discredit the claims made by tibbetts, it airs a bit of credibility to his statements publicly. In this day and age, where public figures are concerned, if they were spreading misinformation about a person and the actions, special interest groups would be on it like white on rice don't you think?

It begs to question why you're taking it so personally and not being able to look at the situation at face value.

 
At 2:01 AM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous hoofhearted said...

Just have to say, as I was reading 'Billy's Story' (sounds like an after school special...), I was surprised at how familiar it all sounded. I was a Crown Attorney for about 5 years (loved the job, just too far from home), and now, you guessed it, defence lawyer.

Billy sounds like the classic self-serving criminal to me, and frankly turns my stomach by now so glibbly breaking down these offences for us... ('ohhhh, she was a slut, and he was a drug dealer - well shucks Billy, come git yer medal!') That said, he was dealt with by the appropriate system, served his time, and literally, I have to say SHOULD be allowed to do whatever the hell he is entitled to legally do.

(Oh and using the logic that the victim hasn't come forward to publicly debate the facts of her rape 10 years ago as proof his version must be true? WEAK!!!!!)

 
At 2:58 AM, July 19, 2006, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

I'm curious hoofhearted, you'd have some perspective on the Canadian legal system at least - what do you make of the fact that he was convicted of statutory rape and not "real" rape. On his version of the facts of the rape, I don't see a crime in Canada, unless the girl was too drunk to consent or something. Even under the changes proposed by the Tories, he'd still be in the clear I think.

I'm having a hard time figuring the rape thing out - the judge supposedly described it as a brutal rape but we know that he got a suspended sentence? That doesn't make sense to me - I have a hard time squaring what he supposedly said with what we know to be true about his sentence.

I don't disagree with what you've said about him sounding like a self-serving criminal. The bit about the girl engaging in intercourse with multiple guys that night sounds strange. There's some other stuff there as well, obviously. I'm probably reading something that wasn't written by someone legally trained but when I read:

"On April 27, 1994, he was given a suspended sentence of six months, 18 months probation and was fined $ 625 on charges of assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct and intimidating a witness."

I wonder what he was convicted of.

I'm not saying that this guy wasn't a bad guy in the 1990's or that he isn't offering a self-serving story now. People who are eager to bury him though should at least acknowledge that a) no one can point to any incident involving police in the past 10 years and b) if his version of the facts on the rape conviction is truthful, referring to him as a rapist is a nice piece of sophistry. Again, that doesn't make him a good guy but those are relevant parts of his story at this point.

 
At 2:43 PM, July 19, 2006, Anonymous David said...

James, after reading the comments, does it sound like anyone would want a version other than what they already believe?

I've heard this story a lot (Tibbetts, not the concept), and most versions are similar, some not. I've halted talking about it because few really want a version other than what they already know/believe/read somewhere.

 
At 8:09 PM, August 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the truth! Tibbetts shot that "poor kid" in the kidney with a pump action pellot gun, after pumping it 15-25 times! That "poor kid" happens to be a good friend of mine, he almost died! Happened at this kid's house after a half day of school. This victim was not a DRUG dealer. The victim had only called a classmate on the phone several times, just so happens that she was the girlfriend of infamous Tibbetts. So Tibbetts shot him for calling the girl.

As far as the rape case: Tibbetts's grandparents paid the victim's parents a LOT of money close to if not a million to push the DA not to lock him up... This is why he only received a suspended sentence!

Recent news on Tibbetts: He was at a club in Boston with another "poor kid" when he started a fight with 15-20 drinking black men. Tibbetts(the sociopath), began fighting these men, the "poor kid" jumped in to help Tibbetts who shortly after fled the scene running.. Currently, that "poor kid" lay in a hospital in a coma...

So you decide what kind of fella Tibbetts is!

 
At 5:13 PM, January 28, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lived in the same town as Billy for most of my life, I can assure you that you're defending the wrong guy. As deplorable as the rape case, is he was a minor and as much as I disagree with the sentence that a Legal system issue not a Billy issue, so let’s set that aside.

In his adult life Billy is a fundamentally unstable person who seems to slither through the justice system by the skin of his teeth. The list of charges against Billy prior to his latest run in with the law is lengthy and well covered in Steve’s post. There is also another A&B charge which was dismissed when the key witness moved out of state (witness intimidation? Who knows?). This latest run with the law involved a high speed pursuit, a crash, and attempted escape on foot until found hiding under a bush.

You should also understand Bill has no real friends, no concept of loyalty, no ability to think in terms of consequences; I’m not psychologist, but I think that is pretty close to the definition of sociopath. He would happily slap the shit out of every one of you defending him for no other reason than he was bored, drunk, coked out, or in need of an ego boost. His brother is similar and was recently sent to jail for attacking his father, one of the few people who always stood up for either of them. I don’t know what the hell happened to make him like he is, but Billy Tibbetts is a violent statistic waiting to happen.

 
At 3:06 AM, February 14, 2011, Blogger kevinsullivan75 said...

i wish i could get a hold of billy we were friends, pretty good ones to i lost touch with him when he was in pittsburg we traveled from seattle to edmonton in hockey training he was a little loose at times but had a natural talent with the puck just could not control his head anyway i love him even threw all the stuff he has done and what alot of people dont no what he has been through. thanks for your time sully (reading ma)

 

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