?Are black athletes being fingered for the same sort of offenses that whites are getting away with?
?Are athletes, for their fame and/or notoriety, being singled out?
?Are athletes, macho by definition, unduly encouraged by the men-in-groups mentality of teams?
?Are athletes inclined now to be more antifemale?
?What is it with these guys nowadays?
As disquieting as the figures are, some are reluctant to take them at face value. Stephen Glynn, Lofton's attorney, who is generally acknowledged to be the top criminal defense lawyer in Wisconsin, says, "I blame the lawyers in a lot of these cases. It's easy for an attorney to sue. You have nothing to lose but time, and if you're a lawyer without any clients, you have the time."
Ken Bowman considers larger imperatives. "It's a terrible thing to say, but drugs have become such an accepted part of society that there's no longer any sense of community outrage," he says. "Instead, we applaud an athlete for seeking help. Perhaps, then, people are transferring submerged feelings to sexual cases. Sexual issues are different. The whole community feels harmed. I think that people here have long ago made up their minds on these cases [Lofton's and Cade's]. They bring their entire culture to bear on it."
Whatever the legal nuances of Lofton's case, the defendant will surely also be judged extralegally: morally. Never mind what finally came to pass at the end of that evening in that stairwell. Why, people wonder, would James Lofton leave Beverly at home, go to a prominent bar in Green Bay and flagrantly make a play for another woman? Surely he knew that in Green Bay accounts of that evening would be known everywhere over breakfast that morning. It was almost as if he wanted to be caught.
Lofton's plight is not helped by the fact that Wisconsin remains, generally, conservative in such matters. "This was an extramarital incident, and that's the issue I must contend with," Glynn says. Indeed, in Wisconsin until as recently as 1983 oral sex among unmarried persons was illegal. Even now state law declares that Wisconsin "does not condone or encourage any form of sexual conduct outside the institution of marriage."
"I try to explain that people can act in poor judgment without being guilty of a crime," Glynn says. "But there's this feeling I keep hearing: He's at it again. At what? He hasn't been convicted of anything. The case in Milwaukee didn't even come to trial."