By Scott Tibbs, August 19, 2008
Last December, a freshman at Owen Valley High School alleged that upperclassmen on the basketball team threatened to rape him as part of a "freshman initiation." The victim's family said that the basketball coach did not take the allegations of sexual assault seriously and simply ordered the victim onto the floor to practice. See previous articles about the scandal from January 14, February 4, July 25, July 29, August 14 and August 16.
Nine years ago, two students walked into Columbine High School in Colorado and coldly slaughtered twelve students and a teacher before killing themselves. As the shootings were investigated, it was revealed that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were mercilessly bullied and were motivated by revenge. Much has been said in the nine years since about dealing with bullying, but scandals like the one in Owen County, and the "good ol' boy" cover up that followed, demonstrate that there is much more that needs to be done.
Ultimately, no charges were filed against the varsity players who allegedly threatened a freshman with rape, and the coach continues to be employed by the school system. When a boy is sexually assaulted and sees no justice through the system, would he be tempted to seek justice through vigilantism?
At the very least, if the allegations that the coach brushed aside sexual assault and a threat of rape are true, his employment should be terminated by the school. He should further be prohibited from working for any school in the state of Indiana as he has proven that he clearly cannot be trusted around children and young people. The school system owes it to the victim - and to every taxpayer in Owen County - to conduct a full investigation of the matter. A school employee who brushes aside sexual assault should not receive even one more penny in salary from the taxpayers. Forcing the victim's parents to pay for the coach's salary is nothing short of obscene.
One thing did come of this. Owen County schools did at least implement an anti-hazing policy. But simply putting words to paper is worthless if the "good ol' boy" system remains in place and the school system is not willing to actually enforce the policy. This is a powder keg waiting to explode. If nothing is done, eventually the wrong boy is going to be targeted and he is going to respond violently. We should not have to wait for news of a mass murder in Owen County for school administrators to wake up and realize there is a problem.