You have GOT to be kidding.
Anti-gay protest to be held at Mepham H.S.; counter-rally also scheduled (News12 Long Island, 10/20/03): An anti-gay group from Kansas plans to hold a protest outside of Mepham High School next Monday. Members of the radical religious group called the Westboro Baptist Church claim school officials are promoting homosexuality. Group members say that is what led to the alleged sodomy of several junior varsity football players at a preseason training camp in Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
So let me get this straight-ish: By sending the kids to a football camp, where a few of them for some unknown reason decided that sticking pine cones up someone's butt repeatedly was a fun thing to do, the public schools are promoting homosexuality.
Well. My goodness. If that promotes homosexuality, just imagine what the various hazing rituals in the military promote -- you know, things like pounding the wings into someone's chest when they receive them, dumping all sorts of gloppy stuff over them when they cross the equator for the first time, stuff like that there. One can but only wonder.
In slightly more sane news on the matter ... well, OK, your definition of sanity may vary.
Vocal parents threatened (Bellmore Herald, October 17, 2003: It appears that the Bellmore-Merrick community won't be free of threats and scare tactics any time soon. In the wake of sexual-assault charges against three Mepham High School varsity football players, a parent named Terry called the Herald to express her concern regarding the safety of her child. ... Terry said that one of the alleged attackers has recently been seen hanging around Mepham, off school grounds, during the day. She believes the former football player, who is suspended from school and now faces criminal charges, may be trying to intimidate ninth-graders who may have witnessed the attacks. ... Terry's account comes after three local residents received threatening letters warning them that if they did not remain silent, they too would be sexually assaulted with a broomstick. ... Jim Rullo, of North Merrick, got a letter. The family of one of the victims asked him to read a statement at a recent meeting of the Bellmore-Merrick Central District Board of Education. In the statement, the family called for Mepham's coaches to resign for their failure to protect the victims, who were allegedly attacked during a football camp in Preston Park, Pa. According to Rullo, the threatening letter said, "Keep your mouth shut and nothing will happen to you or your family." Rullo said the letter, which he turned over to police, was hand-written in black ink and bore a Queens postmark.
All things considered, I suppose that's entirely to be expected.
History of hazing? (Bellmore Herald special report, October 17, 2003): Jane, the mother of a former Calhoun High School wrestler, was eating breakfast on the porch of her Merrick home recently when she had a talk with her son that scared her to the bone. ... Jane told her son she knew about the attacks. "What did you hear?" she asked him.
He laughed, she recalled, a "nervous laugh."
"What's so funny?" Jane asked. "He said, 'Mom, this happens all the time.'"
A feeling of dread ran through her. "Are you talking about sexual attacks?"
No, her son replied. "Everybody gets beat up," he said. "The seniors always beat up the freshmen."
Jane said, "My family was almost in tears."
... OK, what planet does anyone live on that they don't know that this happens? It happened in my day, my mother has told stories that let me know it happened in her day, it probably happened to some degree in our grandparents day. Granted, back then it was merely getting picked on and beaten up, as, in fact, "Jane" hears from her son. But how on earth would you not know that?
Nassau County Legislator David Denenberg (D-Merrick), who authored the county's "Good Sportsmanship Law," recently appeared on NBC's "Today Show" to discuss the alleged attacks. Denenberg described the district's three high schools -- Calhoun in North Merrick, Kennedy in south Bellmore and Mepham in North Bellmore -- as "great" learning institutions. "If something like this happened here," Denenberg said, "it can happen anywhere."
Um ... no offense, guy, but I'm pretty sure that, with variations on the pine cone offense, it happens pretty much everywhere. The only thing unique about this situation -- and who knows how unique, really? -- were the implements used, the damage done, and that the damage done caused the incident to come to light.
To a person, Bellmore-Merrick athletes said hazing doesn't happen on their teams.
And if you believe that, boy, do I have loads of swampland in Florida you'd just love!
Hearing scheduled for teens in hazing case (Wayne Independent, October 17, 2003): Wayne County District Attorney Mark Zimmer announced Wednesday that a certification hearing for the three juveniles charged in the Mepham High School Football Camp case will be held Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. in the courtroom on the 4th floor courtroom at the county courthouse. [...] On October 6, Zimmer announced that he planned to file a petition in the Court of Common Pleas to have three Long Island high school football players tried as adults.
Earlier he stated that three members of the Mepham High School Football team have been charged as juveniles for the alleged sexual abuse of younger players on the team at Camp Wayne for Girls in Preston Park. The allegations include sodomy of the younger players by older team members using a broomstick, pine cones and golf balls. The charges against all three juveniles are based on multiple counts of the following crime: Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; aggravated assault; kidnapping; unlawful restraint; false imprisonment; terroristic threats; criminal coercion; simple assault; reckless endangerment; ethnic intimidation; and multiple counts of criminal conspiracy to commit many of the above crimes. [...] The certification hearing will be held before Wayne County President Judge Robert Conway and he will determine if the suspects should be certified as adults or, being amenable to rehabilitation, as juveniles.
... Adults aren't "amenable to rehabilitation." Hmm. Well, in any event, it'll be interesting to see what comes of this. Apart from the fact that Pennsylvania is, as a whole, known to be resistant to this sort of upgrade of the charges, this is also a first offense for most, I should think, so it's probably fairly unlikely.Posted by iain at October 20, 2003 05:11 PM