Like I said before, everything happens in groups of three.
The third scandal was brought to light over the weekend, and this time it involves a professional team- the Boston Red Sox. Longtime clubhouse manager Donald Fitzpatrick was accused of molesting young African-American boys in White Haven, Florida, where the Red Sox held spring training until 1991. The abuse took place between 1971 and 1991, and reports of abuse were largely ignored.
In a story that smacks of an organizational coverup, the boys, did not get any kind of justice until twenty years after the abuse, in 1991. One of the victims allegedly came forward in 1971, but, similar to the Penn State scandal, nobody contacted the authorities. According to The HuffingtonPost, players like Sammy Stewart and Jim Rice heard about Fitzpatrick’s indiscretions and actually warned kids to stay away from them.
Yet nobody called the police.
These boys were young and poor, seemingly disadvantaged, just like the victims in the Jerry Sandusky case. They needed a mentor, and Donald Fitzpatrick took advantage of their situations, just like Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine.
Another eerie and disturbing similarity lies in the team showers- one Red Sox player allegedly witnessed Fitzpatrick sodomizing a boy in the shower. Like Penn State’s Mike McQueary, he reported what he saw to the team, but not to the police.
Is this Justice?
Like Jerry Sandusky, little to no action was taken to stop Fitzpatrick by the organization. It wasn’t until 1991, when a young aide Fitzpatrick allegedly recruited held up a sign at a game that read “Don Fitzpatrick sexually assaulted me.” The game was nationally televised, and the Red Sox paid a $100,000 settlement. Fitzpatrick resigned the same year.
Fitzpatrick got off easy in the criminal case against him. A summary of the case can be found here. The most outrageous part? He served no jail time, because he was old. He pleaded guilty in 2002, and was on sex offender probation until his death in 2005.
In 2001, a lawsuit was filed by seven of his alleged victims, men who eventually became known as the “White Haven Seven.” The suit was settled in 2003, totaling $3.15 million. But no amount of money can compensate for the irreparable damage Fitzgerald did to these boys. Some have turned to drugs, some have been in jail.
The newest victim to come forward is Charles Crawford. Along with another Massachusetts man, Crawford is seeking $5 million settlements from the team, even though the statute of limitations has expired for filing a lawsuit. Crawford didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until 2006, and he has struggled in his adult life- most likely a result from the abuse he suffered. He has fathered five children with five women, has had difficulty finding work, and served jail time for a drug conviction. In the Huffington Post article, fellow victim Leeronnie Ogletree admitted that sometimes he struggles to figure out his identity.
COWARDS AND CRIMINALS
In all three cases, there have been tales of cowardice. Penn State failed Sandusky’s victims. Bernie Fine’s WIFE failed his victims. And the Boston Red Sox failed Fitzpatrick’s victims for decades.
How many more children must suffer before these administrators man up and stop hiding behind their mighty organizations? A real man would stop this abuse in its tracks. He would recognize that the well-being of a child far outweighs that of a sports organization.
Here’s hoping these horror stories stop at this third revelation.
Everything happens in groups of 3. Everyone knows that.
First, it was Penn State and Jerry Sandusky.
Now, it’s Syracuse University and Bernie Fine.
What’s next?! As sickening as the Jerry Sandusky case is, Bernie Fine’s may just be sicker. As each story gets worse and worse, you have to wonder, what possible level of horribleness could the next scandal be?
Which college or university’s athletic program will be exposed as an employer of an alleged child molester?
Former SU men’s basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine has been accused of molesting two boys that served as ball boys for the team. What makes this cake even more nauseating than Jerry Sandusky’s is that in this case, Fine’s wife knew full well what her husband was doing. We don’t know if Mrs. Sandusky knew, but we certainly don’t have audio recordings of her admitting her husband’s predatory ways.
Laurie Fine knew her husband was a pedophile, and did nothing about it.
That makes her just as bad, if not worse than Joe Paterno, and all the others at Penn State involved in that cover up.
The statute of limitations may have run out for two of his victims, but as we have learned in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the number of victims doesn’t stay low for very long. It’s just a matter of time before more accusers come forward, and sooner rather than later, another scandal will break, probably even worse than this one.
It’s the rule of 3.
Why didn’t anyone think it was strange? Or, more importantly, why didn’t they act on their suspicions?
Imagine, if you will, a man Sandusky’s age starting a charity to help young girls. Are your eyebrows raised? Imagine him spending time with them at night, staying with them on road trips. Are they raised now? Imagine him showering with the little girls. Are your eyebrows raised yet?
What disturbs me is that almost anyone who saw a grown man raping a young girl in a shower would intervene, call the cops, etc. Yet nobody attempted any of those interventions for the young male victims. Is that because we assume boys can take care of themselves, that they don’t need our help?
In the aftermath of this tragedy, we must pause and assess ourselves as a society. It goes without saying that we have to strengthen the system that failed so miserably, but we also have to consider our own perceptions, and the adjustments they may need.
I can understand not wanting to believe that an idol of yours is an actual monster. But when you are confronted with undeniable evidence, you have to step up and take action. Anyone who doesn’t is a coward, which makes every single person involved in the cover-up a coward. And that includes Joe Paterno.
This morning, legendary Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno has announced he will retire after this Saturday’s home game against Nebraska, in the middle of his 46th season at the helm of the Nittany Lions.
The 84-year-old coach is the winningest in the history of college football, with 409 as the head coach. He has served on the coaching staff since 1950, and has been a part of 691 of Penn State’s games overall, 56.5% of their total games since the start of the program in 1887.
There have been calls for Paterno to retire in the past, but none as loud as the ones that have risen in the last week, since former assistant coach Gary Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 counts of child sex abuse; Athletic Director Tim Curley and Penn State Senior Vice President Gary Schultz were also charged in failing to report the incident to police. Paterno was not charged, and when the story first broke it sounded like the coach had nothing to do with any of the incidents. In fact, he followed the letter of the law when he was informed by a graduate student of a disturbing incident he observed in the shower in a football facility; he informed AD Curley, but the buck stopped there. Curley and Schultz allegedly did nothing to prevent the further abuse of Sandusky’s victims, and even allegedly perjured themselves during an investigation into the abuse.
The resignation of Paterno, or “JoePa” as he is affectionately called around the campus, marks yet another in a string of head coach resignations in college football. The circumstances surrounding the resignation are far more distressing than, say, that of Ohio State’s Jim Tressel, but it does further the trend we’ve seen in recent years of head coaches either covering up or not doing enough to stop and prevent misconduct in their football programs. The once-sacred world of college football has been rocked by scandal recently, but none of the scandals have been as tragic and serious as this one at Penn State. According to multiple reports, there is a significant possibility that Penn State will be forced to “clean house,” all the way up to the president of the university.
We are a group of journalism students from James Madison University in the School of Media Arts and Design. This is a blog project for our SMAD 210 News Reporting and Writing class in which we will cover a certain aspect of the sports world. Tom will cover the NFL, most specifically the NFC East and NFC West divisions on a weekly basis. Kelly will cover the NFL as well, most specifically the NFC North and NFC South divisions on a weekly basis. Brandon and Eben will cover skateboarding and snowboarding, including products, films, events, magazine articles and athletes.