December 27, 2010
Florida International infielder Garrett Wittels, who is chasing Robin Ventura's college baseball-record 58-game hitting streak, could be in major trouble with the law after he was charged with raping two 17-year-old girls during a vacation to the Bahamas, the Miami Herald reported.
The incident occurred Dec. 20, while Wittels and a group of friends were vacationing at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. Wittels was released on $10,000 bond after a court hearing on Dec. 23. Bahamaian officials noted that a preliminary inquiry and decision on whether to take the case to trial won't come until April 18, a month after FIU begins its college baseball season.
Wittels' father, Michael Wittels, confirmed the arrest and believes that his son will be vindicated when all details are released.
The father added that Garrett and his friends met the girls in a casino, and the girls willingly joined the men at a private party. No details about what happened at the private party have been released.
Under Bahamian law, this case is not statutory in nature. The age for sexual activity in the Bahamas is 16, thus making consensual activity legal.
"Anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time," Michael Wittels said in the report. "He's not doing well, obviously. He's blown away. He's devastated that someone would accused him of this."
No time table has been set for when and if the case will go to court, thus raising the question about Wittels' eligibility with the Panthers. FIU, though, isn't jumping to conclusions and is still gathering information on the matter.
"We will continue to gather any possible information when it becomes available," FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said in the report.
The Panthers open the 2011 season on Feb. 18, when they play host to Southeastern Louisiana in a three-game series. Wittels' current game hitting streak sits at 56, two shy of Ventura's record. Wittels would break the record with a hit in all three games.
The maximum penalty for a first-time rape offender in the Bahamas is seven years in jail.