A local man accused of rape by a high school friend recently took his case national by appearing on the Dr. the Dr. Phil Show.
Former East Henderson High School football player James “Matt” Bishop and three of his fellow players, Tyler Scott Garren, Justin Ponder and Vincent Joseph Curto were accused of second degree rape in December 2012.
On Sept. 12 and 13 Bishop appeared on the Dr. Phil Show accompanied by his parents, Diane and Mark Bishop. The two-part special also featured the alleged victim, as well as other guests relating to date rape.
While on the show Bishop admitted to being intoxicated with Garren, Ponder, Curto and the alleged victim. Bishop and his parents maintain that the sex was consensual, even initiated by the the girl.
“Around 10 p.m. the girl took me by my hand downstairs where she unbuttoned my pants. After I had sex with her, she kept on asking for more, and I couldn’t give any more so around 10:30, I went upstairs and I told them that she kept on saying that she wanted more,” Bishop said. “And that’s when Wesley went downstairs. When he came back upstairs, he had the same response that I did, saying that she kept on asking for more and more. I was in a daze, about to go to bed, pretty much passed out and all I know is Tyler went downstairs.”
Dr. Phil McGraw, a television personality, author, psychologist and the host of the television show, did not comment on Bishop’s guilt or innocence related to the rape charges, but said he believed Bishop made bad decisions.
“Number one, you’re committing a crime: being in possession and consuming alcohol, and two, you set up a scenario that is fraught with danger,” McGraw said. ”So can we agree that you did do some things wrong that night?”
Later in the episode McGraw interviewed the alleged victim who admitted that she had had past sexual relations with Bishop, but she came to the party under the pretense that there would be other girls.
“I told them I was going back downstairs, that I was going to leave this and when I went downstairs, I ended up on the ground and I don’t really know how,” the alleged victim said. “And when I was on the ground, they just kind of started taking off my clothes again. And Vinny (Curto) stuck his hand down my pants. I tried to stop, but I couldn’t move.”
The show drew mixed reactions from the student body ranging from those who hoped it would uncover the truth to concerns as to how it would portray the Henderson County area.
“The stories don’t connect in my opinion. To be honest with you, I am surprised that the issue left North Carolina,” freshman Garret Baker said.
Baker and sophomore James Murray both said they were surprised at the level of publicity the case has received.
“I thought it was kind of weird for it to be something so close to home. I didn’t know him (Bishop) at all, but it is strange how it is on national television,” Murray said.
Many students have taken sides after hearing both Bishop and the victim on the two episodes.
“I can see it from both sides, but I can see more from the girl’s side,” junior Sandra Nuw said.
Bishop’s parents also claimed his innocence even going so far as to say the alleged victim was the one who should be charged with rape since “she ruined his life.”
“I feel that both sides are lying, but I think that the episode judged too harshly. She was kind of overstepping the boundaries of what actually happened,” senior Shelby Barton said.
A trial date for the four teens has been set for Nov. 12 in Henderson County Superior Court.