Boston University hockey player Max Nicastro has been accused of raping a fellow student, making him the second member of the team to face sex crime allegations in just a few months. Is this just a nasty coincidence, or does the team have a pattern?
According to the Boston Globe, Nicastro was arrested yesterday morning and charged with rape — the crime allegedly occurred on BU's campus. We don't know many more details yet, but there are lots of specifics on the hockey team's previous assault scandal. Back in December, the BU Daily Free Press reported that a BU RA accused forward Corey Trivino (pictured) of repeatedly barging into her room, trying to kiss and grope her, and finally lying down in her bed and declaring that he'd be sleeping there. She called the police, who arrested him when he drunkenly got onto the elevator with them — he now faces multiple charges, including indecent assault and battery.
Hockey coach Jack Parker had an odd response to Trivino's arrest. He said, "there is no question in my mind it's an alcohol problem," and put it in the context of other alcohol-related incidents that had Trivino on team probation. He explained,
I knew as soon as they called me that Corey Trivino was no longer on the BU hockey team. I told him before in September. I told him then, ‘The good news is, I'm not going to do anything about that incident,' which is minor compared to this one. ‘But here's the bad news.' ‘Next time, I'm going to kick you off the team for good. And here's the worst news, there will be another incident, Corey.'
That Parker expected Trivino to fuck up again is somewhat disturbing — did he know his player could be capable of assault? But perhaps more upsetting is the fact that he frames this assault as just another example of problem drinking. He also had this to say of his team's reaction to the allegations:
They're very upset for the loss of a teammate. They're very upset for him having the huge problems he has away from Agganis. His problems with BU hockey are the least of his problems right now. And they're very upset that there's another victim involved.
That phrasing — "another victim" — implies that Trivino is a victim too. If he is an alcoholic, he certainly has personal problems that may be out of his control. But not every alcoholic also assaults women, and by dismissing assault as something guys do when they're drunk, Parker minimizes what happened to the actual alleged victim, the RA.
This could be a symptom of a larger problem. The Daily Free Press also reported that on the dorm hall where the alleged Trivino assault took place, hockey players routinely harassed and intimidated women. Said one student, "We don't open the door, but I mean if we did I can only imagine. . .what if that [attack] happened to one of us? They're big guys, we can't fight back." And in the wake of the Nicastro allegations, some students told the paper that hockey players on campus suffered from a sense of entitlement — said one,
People come to BU for hockey. They're put on a pedestal, obviously, not only for their lifestyle but for the privileges that they're given, and BU is kind of provoking that. It doesn't really say anything good about the university that nothing's being changed even since the last [Trivino's] arrest.
How much Parker can control his team's behavior is open to debate. Back in December, CBS wrote,
Some have wondered if coach Parker took his foot off the gas a bit. Was there a dark side to winning with young contributors who then lose all that leadership almost immediately after? Did the coach let things lie far too long?
That's speculation, obviously. But at least in his public statements about assault, he hasn't struck the right note. In January, his team took part in White Ribbon Day, a campaign against domestic abuse and sexual assault. They agreed to wear white ribbons on their helmets during a regional tournament. Of that decision, he said,
Pretty soon, we're going to have ribbons and puzzles and everything all over our uniforms. Obviously, all four schools were happy to participate. But [the white ribbon] is a one-time thing for this tournament.
It's a throwaway comment that probably would've gone unnoticed if not for Nicastro's arrest. But now, it looks like another example of a coach failing to take sexual assault as seriously as he clearly needs to. Obviously Parker can't control everything his players do off the rink. But now he has the opportunity to change his tone and make a strong statement against sexual assault. The hockey coach obviously has a lot of power at BU — it's time for him to use it for good.