Today SportsTalk contacted three different law offices and talked with one former solicitor to get their opinions on how the case involving Clemson athletes Joe Craig and Marlena Wesh was handled by the Clemson University police department.
Neither Craig nor Wesh were charged in the case because the Police Captain said neither wanted to press charges and the department always respects the wishes of the victims. The police report also indicates alcohol was involved in the incident. Craig and Wesh are both under 21 years old.
Almost every legal expert we spoke to agreed that under most circumstances one or both of the individuals involved in an altercation that involves injuries to this extent would have been arrested and charged. It is however important to note that, despite the fact this incident involved a male and a female it is not a case of criminal domestic violence, which usually comes with more enforcement. Instead it is a case of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
“To be a criminal domestic violence case it has to involve a spouse, a former spouse or they have to have a child or live together,” said Myrtle Beach Law Office of criminal defense and personal injury lawyer Bobby G. Frederick. “I can’t speak about this incident because it is a long way from Myrtle Beach but I will say in Horry County most likely one or both of the individuals would have been arrested.”
Columbia lawyer Michael D. McMullen said in Richland County in an assault case of this nature the officers usually would contact the assistant solicitor to seek permission to pursue charges.
Tommy Pope is a former solicitor. He is well known for his prosecution of the Susan Smith case in the mid-90’s. He told SportsTalk in most cases the decision on whether or not to pursue charges is not up to the victim but the prosecutor.
Obviously this case never made it to a prosecutor because the police did not bring the case to one.
“Discretion lies in the hands of the prosecutor,” Pope said. “Law enforcement does have some discretion. Traditionally with injuries most times you see charges. Now if the two involved don’t want to press charges they may end up disappearing later.”
SportsTalk has requested further comment from Clemson University Police Captain Erick Hendricks and have yet to reach him. We plan to request other similar cases the University Police has handled in which they did not charge either individual after a violent assault.
Both Craig and Wesh face disciplinary action from the Clemson student judiciary board. We are told a hearing should take place this week. Earlier today Dabo Swinney announced Craig is suspended from summer workouts with the football team. Craig and Wesh were suspended from the track team on May 24th, two days after the incident.
We again spoke with Clemson University Police Captain Eric Hendricks this afternoon and he reiterated that it is the policy of his department to honor the wishes of the victims in these cases. He said even though the two used weapons described as “lethal” in the police report, they still chose to honor the wishes of the two involved.
“Both of the individuals are the victims here,” Hendricks said. “Since neither wanted to press charges we didn’t pursue the matter. We don’t want a situation of two people in front of a jury in a courtroom that don’t want to press charges to begin with.”
We mentioned that the legal experts we talked two believed that it should have been handed over to a prosecutor. Hendricks said he can only speak to his department’s policy and that is to honor the wishes of the victims.
As for why neither was charged with underage drinking (the report states the victims were using alcohol) Hendricks said it takes more than someone admitting they are drinking to charge them with underage consumption.
“You would have to have blood test or more evidence than just them saying they were drinking.”
Hendricks could not name any other recent incident in which two people assaulted each other and no one was arrested.
“Normally it is one against the other,” he said. “In this case neither one wanted to charge the other.”