** Trigger warning: The below petition is about a sexual assault. **
The tragedy of a sixteen year old girl who was raped by two football players at Steubenville High horrified America. But to their Coach Reno Saccoccia, the tragedy is not that a teenage girl was raped, but that two of his star players will be jailed for violating her.
You see, evidence from the rape trial shows that for months before the story broke, Saccoccia likely 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 had seen a video of the rape.
- Text messages from the other boy, Malik Richmond, indicate that Saccoccia used his influence in the town to keep them 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."
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. Even after the boys were arrested and charged with rape, Saccoccia kept his players on the team for eight more games. Saccoccia even 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."
Coaches have a responsibility to train the boys in their care to be responsible men. But instead of teaching that rape was wrong, Saccoccia taught that the boys' football prowess made them immune to punishment.
It’s the job of the adults in a school to defend the dignity and safety of all its students. In prioritizing a winning football season over a raped girl, Saccoccia failed to do this. He may now face charges of failing to report a rape. But whether or not he’s ever charged, it’s clear what the Steubenville School District needs to do - they must immediately fire Coach Reno Saccoccia.