Boys Will be Boys

Boys Will be Boys“Boys will be boys.” “Times have changed.” “Kids aren’t as tough as they used to be.” “Suck it up.” “Hazing.” “They’re just bullies.”

When a student athlete is raped with a pool cue by teammates, it is not hazing, and it is not bullying. It is rape. It is a crime. And any students and adults responsible, including those coaches that did not investigate the victim’s prior reports and did not immediately report the rape to the police, should be prosecuted.

In Ooltewah, Tennessee, a 15-year-old high school basketball player was sodomized with a pool cue by three older teammates. The abuse happened when the team was on an overnight trip for an out-of-town tournament. The team stayed in a cabin, and when the coaches left the boys alone at the cabin, the varsity players “hazed” the freshmen players by assaulting them with pool cues. Later that night, the abuse continued after the younger players went to sleep, when the varsity players began to beat them. The 15-year-old victim complained to his coaches. Did the coaches end the trip? Report the assailants to the police? Supervise the students more closely? No. The coaches yelled at them.

Later that night, in retaliation, three varsity players raped the 15-year-old with the pool cue so badly that his coach had to rush him to the emergency room, and he required emergency surgery. One of the perpetrators reportedly filmed the abuse and uploaded it to SnapChat. The three perpetrators were arrested. At the time, the coaches were not. Two coaches and two assistant principals have since been charged with violating the state’s mandatory reporter law.

The administration’s subsequent reaction to and minimization of the incident is unfathomable. The principal stated in an email that a “violation of team policy” occurred. The Athletic Director did not see any reason by the coaches should be investigated. Additionally, it was not until two weeks after the incident that the county’s Board of Education cancelled the remainder of the school’s varsity basketball season.

This article, unfortunately, highlights how far our society still has to go in terms of understanding, compassion, and responsibility. Incidents like this should never, ever happen. Students must have safe ways to report abuse and must have teachers and administrators that care, know how to recognize abuse, and know what to do. And talking about such incidents in terms of pithy sayings and euphemisms such as “boys will be boys” and “bullying” minimizes them and distracts from what they really are — violent acts. Call them what they are. If you see something, say something. We all have a responsibility to ensure these types of incidents do not continue to happen.


Original Story: Varsity Basketball Players Raped Teammate and School Let Team Keep Playing

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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