The Penn State disease is not restricted to colleges. Now there comes a lawsuit showing how ugly it is when the contagion hits a high school.
The Southern Columbia Tigers are a real high school football power in Pennsylvania, and naturally the Southern Columbia Area School District and Southern Columbia Area High School Principal James A. Becker wouldn’t do anything to change that…like, for example, barring two rapists from playing on the team when they were so good at scoring the legal way, as well as…well, you know.
A law suit filed by “C.S.” in Federal Court alleges that the school district and high school principal protected two star student athletes after it had been proven in court that they had sexually assaulted the girl, a student at the school as well. From the complaint:
“Despite these adjudications, the school district did not take any action to discipline the perpetrators, or prevent them from having contact with or harassing C.S., or otherwise restrict their ability to attend or participate in extracurricular activities, and they were both allowed to play on the boys’ basketball team that winter. The boys’ permission to participate on the basketball team resulted in the constructive deprivation of C.S. to participate on the basketball team’s cheerleading squad, as C.S. could not reasonably be expected to cheer for, and rally behind, two students who had recently sexually assaulted her…Officials for the school district, including principal Becker, informed C.S. and her parents that they would take no action against the perpetrators and that the school could do nothing to separate C.S. from the perpetrators without a court order since the assault did not take place on school grounds.
…During this meeting, when C.S. specifically raised concerns of being scheduled in the same ‘honors’ English class as the perpetrators, the school district refused to offer any reasonable accommodation to her. In fact, C.S. was advised that if she did not wish to be in the same ‘honors’ English class as the perpetrators, her alternative was to remove herself from the ‘honors’ class and schedule herself in the ‘general’ class since there was only one section of ‘honors’ English.”
Enough. You can read the whole revolting story here; it is bringing back bad memories for me. Maybe you remember too: do you recall the Texas high school that kicked a rape victim off the cheerleading squad after she refused to cheer for her own rapist, who was still allowed to play on the school’s basketball squad? This is how the Penn State disease works, you see. It causes a form of insanity. Before either of these cases happened, before the administrators responsible got their jobs, how do you think they would have answered if you asked them this hypothetical:
Q: A star athlete rapes one of your female students, who happens to be a cheerleader.
A. Expel him and force him to go to another school, or
B. Tell the rape victim to like it or lump it?
Similarly, if you had asked Joe Paterno, or one of his minions (like the Penn State president) before their brains were addled and consciences rotted away by a “football is everything” culture, if they would take no action to protect children at risk after receiving credible information suggesting that a former staff member was a pedophile, is there any chance that they would have answered, “I’d give the guy a firm talking to, and tell him not to bring any of his victims on campus”?
Whole university, college and school district administrations don’t suddenly mutate into monsters overnight. Their cultures become so fogged and distorted by publicity and excitement and parents cheering and other benefits that simple considerations of right and wrong are just lost in a blur. Their ethics alarms freeze up, or if they work at all, they can’t be heard in the din of distractions. As a result, horrible things happen.
There is no ethical defense for what this school’s administrators did to “C.S.,” or what their Silsbee High School counterparts did to its raped cheerleader, “H.S.” Nor is there any ethical defense for the Penn State enablers. They were once normal, intelligent, ethical people, and tunnel vision corrupted them, until they could no longer tell right from wrong.
There are things that can be done to them now, but little that can be done for them. The only purpose in telling tales of the Penn State disease at all, really, is to keep it at bay. We all suffer from a powerful mental state known as “restraint bias,” the belief that we are less corruptible than everyone else. All the victims of the Penn State disease thought this way too, and before they knew what happened, they were convincing themselves that the best courses of action were to let child molesters run wild and make cheerleaders cheer their rapists.
If it can happen to them, it can happen to any of us.
Pointer: Rick Jones (Thanks!)
Facts: Courthouse News
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