August 13, 2014

Sexual Assault Scandal Flares Up Again In Steubenville

I understand that high school sports are important to communities, especially football. I taught for 11 years at one of the major football schools in the state of Texas -- a couple of years ago four of them played against each other in the same game (two of them were young men I taught) -- and have seen just how influential the sport can be for a school and a district. But there have to be some limits -- and I think that what is going on this fall in Steubenville, Ohio is an example of those lines being crossed.

Now many folks will remember the horrors exposed in the Steubenville high school rape case a couple of years ago. The details are horrible, the defense put on by the two indicted students was horrific, and the cooperation of educators and other community members in the cover-up would have seemed to be the nadir of community involvement. Unfortunately, it is not.

One of the Steubenville High School students convicted in a high-profile, March 2013 rape is now back on the football field.

Ma'Lik Richmond, 18, who, along with Trent Mays, was convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, has rejoined the roster of the Steubenville Big Red football team as a wide receiver, according to WTRF TV.

The case fueled an intense national debate about online bullying after hacker group Anonymous exposed photos and videos made the night girl was raped. The images showed two males carrying the inebriated victim by her wrists and ankles and other teens making jokes at the girl's expense.

Got that -- the community, school and district that so abused a rape victim and embraced football first is putting one of the registered sex criminals back on the team. After all, there are games to win!

And worst of all, there are people defending this decision -- take this call by Slate to stop "shaming" this sex criminal and let him get on with the rest of his life.

Does this punk have a right to comlete his education? Yes, he does -- that is the law. Does he have a right to be back on the football team? Absolutely not -- participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege, not a right. Were I the coach, I would not allow him on my team. Were I the principal, I would be doing all in my power to dump any coach who allowed this guy back on the team. And were I the superintendent, I would be looking for a way to fire the principal (and the coach) if he/she were willing to permit this registered sex offender to set foot on the field as a representative of the school. But that isn't happening -- and there is apparently no community outrage.

But what do I know. In a world where Michael Vick can come back to the league after spending time in jail on animal cruelty charges related to a dogfighting ring and Ray Rice gets merely a two game suspension for knocking a woman unconscious, maybe my priorities are out of whack.

Or maybe it is the world of sports that needs to consider whether it should go back to the day when character counted for something.

|| Greg, 04:12 PM || Permalink || Comments (14) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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