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hazing story, part five

DA Implores Witnesses to Mepham Abuse to Come Forward

It's a sad state of affairs when witnesses to abuse have to be implored to come forward.

"Please do not let a bunch of high school bullies intimidate you into letting extremely serious crimes go unpunished," said Mark Zimmer, district attorney in Wayne County, Pa., whose jurisdiction includes the camp where the alleged attacks took place.

I wonder, though, who the witnesses are more afraid of; the bullies on the football team or their parents.

It's nto a stretch to think that some of these parents are telling their kids to keep quiet. Reputations to keep, scholarships to think of and all that.

Zimmer, in a news conference at the county courthouse in Honesdale, said he has been frustrated by the lack of cooperation from witnesses and the reluctance of Bellmore-Merrick school officials to turn over their information on the alleged attacks without a subpoena. School officials have said they were acting upon the advice of their lawyer.

So the school, in all the past articles on the subject, claims to be horrified and outraged at what went on at the football camp, but now they are holding back on cooperating. The bare truth strikes fear into the hearts of adminstrators.

Zimmer said police have interviewed some witnesses, but would not say how many. With more cooperation, he said, "I think I would be a lot closer to telling you that the investigation would be completed at the very least."

Once again we are left to wonder just who is being protected here. It's certainly not the victims; if anyone cared about them at all, the interviews with police would have been done immediately. Surely witnesses, parents and people who had just heard rumors would be swarming outside the door of the Pennsylvania police if anyone had taken the victims into account.

But no, we have a community shrouded in silence, upstanding citizens of suburbia forming a tight circle in order to protect criminals. And why? Because, as Zimmer says:

"all the information available to make me comfortable that ... the crimes charged have been committed and ... that I can convict."

Just imagine those poor football players having criminal charges lodged against them. Imagine them in court. Imagine them being tried and convicted. Good-bye scholarship. Good-bye Big Ten college. Good-bye to daddy's dreams of placing his son's football trophies on the mantle. What middle class, suburban, white collar family wants to hang an arrest warrant in a frame next to the Athlete of the Year award?

There is at least one sane parent:

"I've put my neck out and now I need other people to step up," said the woman, who did not want to be identified. "I can't understand any reason for someone not to cooperate. The police are not looking to arrest or prosecute their children. They're just looking to do the right thing."

Odds are ten to one that she will be an outcast at the next PTA meeting.

Several students interviewed Monday say peer pressure and fear of retribution is what is keeping many players from telling what they know.

"The other football players will be ... if people tell," said one 16-year-old junior. "I'd be afraid ... it could be their friends going to jail."

Ah, the old climate of fear. Yea, these players must be some real upstanding scholars and athletes. Real pride of the parents.

Among the charges the three accused players could face are a slew of first-degree felonies, including involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, aggravated assault and kidnapping, Zimmer said. The prosecutor is also considering lesser charges, including unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and conspiracy.

All those charges, all those heinous crimes, and no one wants to come forward and talk about it to the police. Not even the parents. Football scholarships should be the least of their worries now. If anyone from that school grows a pair of balls, those kids will be watching college football from the rec room of a county jail instead of the sidelines.

Please someone, do the right thing. You will live with your conscience so much easier in the years to come.


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» The Cul-de-Sac for Monday, September 29 from suburban blight
Welcome to this week's edition of the Cul-de-Sac, my weekly quest to find out just exactly what bloggers in my neigborhood have on their minds. This week brought the addition of two new items: first, I made a little Cul-de-Sac... [Read More]

» The Cul-de-Sac for Monday, September 29 from suburban blight
Welcome to this week's edition of the Cul-de-Sac, my weekly quest to find out just exactly what bloggers in my neigborhood have on their minds. This week brought the addition of two new items: first, I made a little Cul-de-Sac... [Read More]


I agree with you 100%,but look at all of the references that we have today on the effectiveness of stonewalling:the Kennedys,the Clintons,just to name a few success stories in the wall of silence technique.

It's Glen Ridge, NJ all over again. Sometimes I think all High Schools should be blown up.

The more I hear about this whole incident, the more incensed it makes me. I thought the blame the victim mentality went out in the 80s. Argh.

While I agree with 99.9% of everything you've said about this, I have to wonder about this last part and here's why. You reported earlier that the intimidation to keep quiet was not inflicted on the JV by the criminals involved only, but a much larger part of the group.

I was telling a couple of friends about this story today and we thought about something you haven't brought up. The plan to sodomize someone, as gruesome and horrific as that is, might be simple at first like the NY cops incident. But the introduction of new and more henious ideas, the pine cones and the golf balls, suggests that this was a thing that was built upon after the new wore off the broomstick angle. An escalation of events for sick minds.

All that to say, I wouldn't be surprised if this had been going on for longer than just this year. These kids are part silent and threatening for a reason. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the threatening kids had witnessed something similiar over the previous years and don't want to admit publicly that they were vicitimized as well. Would football jocks rather bury the evidence than admit that yes, something similiar happened to them last year? Who wants that kind of celebrity? No One.

It doesn't make it right and this is rampant speculation. Still, I can't help but wonder how this whole culture of fear of exposure started and who else has a story to tell. That alone would tell a part of the story.

NPR has a story on this whole thing this morning.

Talking to some seniors -- one said "It's really their loss, they can't put the blame on anyone else."

Then they talk to a parent "They don't want to be the rat." -- his daughters are in the drill team, or some such.

Another parent says the coaches should be punished just as the kids are. And that they're pissed off that the kids were only suspended.

"Privacy laws prevents the school from sharing information with the police."

I beg pardon?

I understand not disclosing to the media -- but to the police?! I suppose if a murder occurred on campus, they couldn't tell the police anything about it.

In any case, there's probably an audio clip from this on the NPR website by 10am. It was played at 6:35am, which means that WNYC will play it again at 8:35am.

The program will be available here at 10am ET.

You can also listen to the show in streaming audio (I think they use Windows Media Player, because we can't listen to this on our Mac) at WNYC -- again the story will be on around 8:35am.

meep, the law forbids the school, or school officials, from disclosing information about students without a subpeona. That means even to the police. If they did, the parents could sue them, and some would. Imagine the parents of the perps successfully suing the school for substantial damages.

No, the real question is hello, where's the f***ing subpeona? Are GJ dockets that crowded?