A lengthy New York Times story recently provides chilling details about the rape of a girl and the inadequate response to that crime by Steubenville school officials.
After reading about this case, we cannot help but see some parallels between this situation and that which occurred at Penn State. Although the crimes are different, it is a fact of both cases that in each there is a definite mystique around the football program and a cult of personality surrounding the coach (Paterno at PSU, and Reno Saccoccia in Steubenville). In both cases, the love of football has prevented the proper investigation into the alleged rape and the punishment of those involved.
We call on the school board to suspend Coach Saccoccia for his behavior. The fact that he has refused to take any real disciplinary steps toward the football players that either witnessed or in some way abetted the alleged rape is disturbing, and his treatment of the New York Times journalist who spoke to him about the case is frightening. His actions are indicative of someone who cares more about their win-loss record than about the young people they are supposed to be improving.
We also urge the school board to examine the actions of Superintendent Michael McVey and Principal Shawn Crosier. We are disappointed that they left all disciplinary decisions up to Coach Saccoccia, and the fact that they failed to follow up with any of the students in attendance at the party where the alleged rape occurred is distressing.
This sad case has all the tell tale signs of an attempted cover-up, and our hearts ache for the victim in this case who has been subjected to undue scrutiny and blame. We hope that the added attention on Steubenville High School will result in justice for the victim, repercussions for the alleged rapists, and accountability for Steubenville officials.
SNAP Midwest Associate Director