Not long ago, a community’s criminal mishandling of a teenage girl’s horrific gang rape put Steubenville, Ohio on the map for some very dark reasons. Now, the same thing is happening in the small ranching town of Norwood, Colorado. And this time, the victim is a boy.
According to The Denver Post, a 13-year-old boy’s entire family was forced to leave Norwood and move to another town after an entire community banded together to bully and intimidate him and his father for reporting his sexual assault to the police. As with many similar cases, the perpetrators were popular athletes. This time, the victim was also an athlete, and the assault took place on a wrestling trip during which three older students cornered the victim on an empty schoolbus, bound him with duct tape and sodomized him with a pencil.
This would have been horrific enough on its own, but the way in which grown ass townspeople, including the fucking schoolboard, handled it afterwards is truly shameful. The boy’s father happened to be the principal of his son’s school, and says school officials put pressure on him not to report the crime. Not coincidentally, the father of two of the perpetrators, Robert Harris, was and remains both the wrestling coach and school board president. When he confronted Harris about the incident, the victim’s father says Harris tried to dismiss the attack:
‘I was shocked beyond belief, and I was mad,’ the father told [Bloomberg News] of learning about the attack. ‘I do believe I was madder than I have ever been. You’re trying to protect your kids, and then something like this happens.’
He said that he immediately confronted Robert Harris, the wrestling coach, about the incident, who he says initially denied the attack then justified it by claiming ‘this happens 1,000 times a day around the U.S.’
The father reported it anyway, and the attackers later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges and were sentenced to probation, community service, and restitution. The school, on the other hand, gave them one day of in-school suspension, which they reportedly discussed giving the victim as well. All three attackers remain on the wrestling team.
While most decent human beings would want to show their support for a victim of sexual assault, or at least not make the experience worse, this community of sports-obsessed idiots turned against the victim and his family. The bullying began immediately, both in person and online. Kids put stickers that said “go to hell” on the victim’s locker, and one perpetrator’s mother even made t-shirts that said “Team TTH” (the attackers’ first initials), which many students wore to an end of the year barbecue. When police told some parents about this, the parents responded that they, too, supported “Team TTH.” The victim’s father was initially put on paid leave, but ultimately resigned from his position as principal, moving his family to a different town and taking a job that paid half his previous salary.
While I would like to dismiss this as the depraved actions of one town’s worth of bad apples (which is already an awful lot of bad apples), this incident seems like part of a pattern in which members of a community turn to victim-blaming rather than admit their star athletes have done something wrong. This is just further evidence that we need to quit it with this dangerous “boys will be boys” mentality, teach kids (and adults) about rape and rape culture before they perpetrate it, and get the fuck over high school sports. One more Steubenville is already way too many.
(Via The Daily Mail)