DES PLAINES, Ill—An Illinois high school has for years been getting away with hazing that includes forced sodomy of teens. The behavior was not only tolerated but encouraged by adult coaches. Now a family whose 14-year-old boy was abused is suing.
According to the local ABC station, "The parent was joined by her attorney, Antonio Romanucci, who filed a lawsuit against school officials and coaches. Romanucci said the incident happened September 27 during school hours and on school property. The freshman was pushed down, held down and sodomized by upper classmen who had pulled down his underwear, Romanucci said. The attorney said the hazing was sanctioned by the soccer team's coaches."
The crime took place in the open, with multiple witnesses and participants, at Maine Township High School District 207. The school has taken preliminary action, reportedly suspending the coaches on staff (with pay!), firing a few others not on staff, and "six students were petitioned to juvenile court for battery and hazing following a Des Plaines police investigation."
That should be just the beginning. If felony child sexual abuse charges are not brought against each one of the coaches, justice will not have been served in Illinois. It wasn't just the one child, either, but two others... this time. Romanucci said he has received evidence that it's been going on for four years, which means there are other victims out there, and maybe other perps.
"You think when you drop off your son at school, it is a safe place to be," said the 14-year-old's mother, who wore a baseball cap and sunglasses to court to protect her identity. "But I feel the coaches should have kept him safe on the soccer field and they didn't do that."
Not only did they not keep him safe; they were the abettors of the abuse. The lawsuit is apparently claiming that state bullying laws were violated, but much, much more than that was violated in Des Plaines, Illinois. A profound public trust was broken that could (and should) take years to repair. The Chicago Tribune has published the names of two of the coaches, "Michael Divincenzo, head boys and girls varsity coach, and freshman boys coach Emilio Rodriguez."
If the facts bear out as they have been alleged, those two individuals and the others should never teach again, serve time in prison and be shunned by the communities in which they live. If the citizens of Illinois do not use this situation as a test case to express their disgust with the sort of team sport school sanctioned hazing that leaves permanent emotional scars on their children, they can expect more of the same.
But really, more of the same is exactly what this nation has been experiencing for years. Is it not possible that Jerry Sandusky became the monster he is at the hands of youth coaches like those who preyed upon the Des Plaines kids? At the very least, can we not reasonably believe that a similar culture of hazing in football led Sandusky to look upon forced sex play as a sanctioned rite of passage? Where, by the way, did any of the adults at Penn State who looked the other way learn that it was okay to look away, that something larger was in play, that something bigger than an abused child needed to be protected? They didn't learn it on their own!
Is this really the glory of sports that everyone speaks about, and wants for their children, so that they not only grow up healthy but learn the inimitable lessons that come from team sports and individual discipline? Imagine the mentality that allows a handful of coaches to warp the minds of the children in their care by integrating into practice sessions a life lesson about subjugation and rape that will not soon be forgotten, if it ever could be. Where did they learn that these were the life lessons that needed to be imparted to these young balls of clay?
I wonder how many professional football players have also been on the receiving end of such abuse while still in high school, and then maybe turned around and meted out the same lesson to kids beneath them? I wonder how many of our nation's leaders have gone through this, pushing it away as the price of belonging to the most exceptional nation on the planet? Who, indeed, could even utter the word "exceptional" knowing that this happens more frequently in this country than anyone wants to admit?
Four years in duration, and it only comes to light now? That by definition means that it was not an isolated incident, but a criminal conspiracy, just like at Penn State!
Maybe it's because I have a son only a few years younger than the child abused here, maybe because I love soccer and played it myself in high school, or maybe because, as much as my wife might disagree, I am not a sick fuck, but this stuff drives me nuts. It's as bad as Catholic Church molestations, military sexual assaults or the sexual abuse of prisoners by guards, and maybe worse, because everyone has to go to school, lots of kids want to play sports, but not one of them anticipates that sodomy is the price they might have to pay to get on the team.
A lot of people like to complain about consensual sex in porn, and some say it is responsible for an overly sexualized culture that promotes sexual abuse—but what about our sports culture, which has been going strong for many more years than the internet has been around, and which appears to be equally if not more depraved than any of our prized intsitutions? Yeah, I know, it will never change because the money is just too huge. If we don't get to the kids when they're really young, after all, who will suit up for all those college football games, and soccer games, and lacrosse games... and... and... and...