Mitch Albom's comments on Winston rape accuser draws fire

Mitch Albom first made a name for himself in the Detroit area as a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press 30 years ago - since then he's become famous on a national scale as a best-selling author and a regular contributor on ESPN sports talk shows.

It was on one of those national talk shows that his opinion regarding a rape settlement and an athlete has him taking some heat in the court of public opinion. 

Mitch Albom has made a living speaking his mind but one recent comment may cost him.  While appearing on the  ESPN's The Sports Reporters, a show seen around the country the topic revolved around a $950,000 settlement regarding Jameis Winston and the woman who he allegedly raped when he was a quarterback at Florida State University.

"I'd feel a lot happier about this, if the woman took that money and gave it to charity and said, 'That's not what this was about.'  I am always suspect when people end up saying, 'Well, I'm going to take it.'"

The backlash came quickly. People commenting online against Albom's outspoken statements.  The reaction locally is equally as strong.

"In his own way he's calling her a liar," said Rychael Walton, Angel House co-founder.

Walton co-founded Angel House, creating resources, help for abused and battered women.  She says Albom is downplaying what happened to the victim in this case.

"When it comes to this situation there is no compensation that could ever replace what you went through." she said. "With me being a rape victim myself, no one can ever compensate me enough for what I went through."

Mitch Albom emailed a statement about his comments to FOX 2:

"In no way was my Sports Reporters comment about giving a settlement to charity meant to imply it would have made the accuser’s case more believable, or to tell her what to do with her money.

"Quite the contrary. I hoped that it would take money out of the discussion to allow the important conversation about sexual assault to stand alone, without talk of settlement amounts.

"The impact of sexual assaults are devastating, and it takes great courage to come forward and report them. No comments, including mine, should ever shift the spotlight away from that, or from this terribly serious problem in our society. I hope that is where the focus will now remain."

Walton argues that a prominent public figure such as Albom has a responsibility to speak his mind but says it should be done with care His words carry a lot of weight and in this instance may do a lot of damage to victims willing to speak out and seek justice.

"It angers me what the quarterback did and what Mitch said because it's not fair," she said. "You don't know exactly how we feel when we go through  something like that."

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