On Thursday, in an op-ed, the conservative Washington Examiner reported on an incident from Alabama Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville's career as a football coach for Auburn University in 1999.
"When Clifton Robinson, the short but quick receiver from Naples, Florida, returned to the Auburn University football team in August 1999 after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor to avoid going to trial after being charged with the second-degree rape of a 15-year-old girl, first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville pledged to figure out the right punishment for him," wrote Siraj Hashmi. "'Clifton is back on the team,' Tuberville said. 'He and I will sit down today, and I'll tell him that we do things right around here, so he can expect there will be some punishment. What it is, I don't know yet.' That punishment ended up being a mere one-game suspension from the team's Sept. 4 season opener against Appalachian State. Auburn won 22-15."
Under Alabama law, second-degree rape occurs when the accused "engages in sexual intercourse with a female less than 16 and more than 12 years old, provided; however that the (man) is at least two years older than the female."
"Tuberville is not responsible for the actions of his players," wrote Hashmi. "However, when it comes to disciplining a student-athlete for something as serious as sex with a minor, Tuberville at least holds some accountability. A harsh punishment like booting an offending player from the team draws a line in the sand that mistakes such as these will not be tolerated."
Moreover, Hashmi pointed out, "Clearly, Tuberville's punishment didn't succeed in teaching Robinson to stay out of trouble. In February 2000, Robinson was arrested on assault charges caused by a fight. In August 2004, several years after leaving Auburn, Robinson was arrested and ultimately convicted in 2006 of aggravated battery of an off-duty police officer."
Tuberville is currently the leading candidate in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won a special election upset in 2017 due in large part to credible accusations of child molestation by the GOP candidate, former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Jones is considered to be one of the most vulnerable incumbent senators of the election cycle.
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