Another small American town has been rocked by revelations of sexual abuse at the hands of some of their most protected football stars this week, and local response is sadly much as we’ve come to expect. According to the Washington Post, the town of Dietrich, Idaho is “a community on edge” after charges were filed against three high school football players alleged to have sexually assaulted a fellow student.
While it’s not uncommon for residents to rally around young men with “promising futures” (remember Steubenville?), there is one key difference between this case and most of the ones we hear about – in Dietrich, the victim is a male teammate. He’s also an intellectually disabled black male in an overwhelmingly white town. Prior to the assault, he had been subjected to racist bullying. During the assault, the three defendants allegedly inserted and then kicked a coat-hanger into his rectum.
It’s hard to imagine a situation in which anyone could find this kind of behaviour defensible, but it’s incredible how flexible people can be when it comes to forgiving their heroes. Local resident Hubert Shaw was clear in his position to the Washington Post: “They’re 15, 16, 17 year old boys who are doing what boys do…I would guarantee that those boys had no criminal intent to do anything or any harm to anyone. Boys are boys and sometimes they get carried away.”