Garrett Wittels made national headlines this year with his pursuit of the record for longest hitting streak in NCAA history, even getting nominated for an ESPY. Now, only two games shy of matching the mark, it appears Wittels’ run at the record book is in jeopardy.
The Florida International University slugger has been arrested in the Bahamas and charged with the rape of two 17-year-old girls, The Miami Herald reported Monday. Wittels, 20, was arrested along with several friends Dec. 20 at the Atlantis Resort and Casino in Nassau, where they were vacationing.
Wittels’ father, Michael Wittels, confirmed to The Herald that his son had been arrested but maintained the facts of the case would prove the young man’s innocence.
“Anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time,” Michael Wittels said. “He’s devastated that someone would accuse him of this.”
Wittels’ ongoing hitting streak is the second longest in NCAA history at 56 games, behind Robin Ventura’s record of 58 while he was at Oklahoma State. Wittels was nominated for ESPN’s annual ESPY Awards in the category of Best College Male Athlete, losing out to Kentucky basketball star John Wall, and was set to resume the chase in February.
That was before the night in question at the hotel casino, where the junior infielder and his group allegedly met the two girls, who claimed to be University of Arkansas students. Video surveillance showed the young women following the men to a private party, where the incident allegedly took place.
Wittels and Robert Rothschild, 21, were charged with raping both teenagers while Jonathan Oberti, 21, was charged with raping one of them. Two other men, Steven Tromberg and Jon Shapiro, also were held in connection with the charges. Wittels was released on a $10,000 bond Thursday after a court hearing.
"We will continue to gather any possible information as it becomes available,” Florida International University athletic director Pete Garcia said, declining further comment.