**Trigger Warning: The below contains a description of a sexual assault.**
By now, most of us know the awful story of the Steubenville "Rape Crew" -- the high school football players who raped an unconscious 16 year old girl at a party while their friends on the football team took pictures and video of the incident. But what I don't know, and will never understand, is why head football Coach Reno Saccoccia still has a job.
The rapists were recently convicted, and evidence from their trial shows that for months before the story broke, Saccoccia knew exactly what his players did and helped protect them. Here's what we know:
* A text message from Trent Mays, one of the boys who raped Jane Doe, indicates that Saccoccia was aware of the video of the rape.
* Three text messages from the other boy, Malik Richmond, indicate that Saccoccia took steps to keep him out of trouble. The messages read:
- "Nah, IDGAF [I don't give a f***] I got Reno. Nothing’s gonna happen if it goes to court."
- "I got Reno. He took care of it and s*** ain't gonna happen, even if they did take it to court."
- "Like he was joking about it so I’m not worried."
* No players known to have participated in the rape in any way -- sharing the photos and videos, keeping it from authorities, being at the scene without reporting the rape -- were ever punished by Saccoccia or his staff.
* Saccoccia threatened a female reporter with violence, telling her, "You're gonna get yours. And if you don't get yours, somebody close to you will."
Saccocia utterly failed in his duty to train the boys in his care to be responsible men. Instead of protecting the victim of a brutal rape, he chose to protect the rapists from experiencing any consequences. Instead of teaching that rape was wrong, he taught that the only thing that matters is to not get caught.
A lot of adults failed the young men and women of Steubenville High School by blaming and shaming the victim for being taken advantage of, by putting their football season over their humanity, by giving a football coach more power than anyone deserves. It'll take far more than firing Coach Saccoccia to begin truly setting things right in Steubenville. It’ll take things like teaching coaches and athletes how to create a culture that respects women, values consent, and shares the tools to confront sexual violence.
But things can't be set right, either, unless the man most responsible for leading these boys down the right path is held accountable for leading them astray. Call on the Steubenville School District to fire Coach Reno Saccoccia immediately.
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