Right on the heels of the awfulness that was the Steubenville rape case comes a grim report from a small town in Connecticut: two 18-year-old football players from Torrington High School have been charged with the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. If that weren't distressing enough, "dozens" of Torrington students have taken to social media to unleash a torrent of hateful abuse on the girl, blaming her, much like some of the victim-blaming assholes in the Steubenville case, for "ruining the lives" of her alleged attackers.
Jessica Glenza, a reporter at The Register Citizen in Litchfield County, Conn., has compiled a thorough account of the developing saga in Torrington, which much like Steubenville, hinges in large part on the seemingly disproportionate influence a school's football program has on the surrounding community. The Torrington football team has seen a string of scandals dating back to last fall when Edgar Gonzalez, one of the players accused in the sexual assault case, was allowed to play even though then-football coach Dan Dunaj knew that Gonzalez had been recently charged in a March 2012 alleged felony robbery. Four other players were suspended that fall for a hazing scandal that is still under investigation.
Although Torrington school officials claim that the sexual assault charges against Gonzalez and fellow player Joan Toribio, the hazing, and the robbery charges are all "isolated incidents," it's pretty hard not to sense that Torrington has a serious problem with its football program. Athletic Director Mike McKenna tried to dispel concerns that the football team was out of control by breaking out some amateur criminology:
If you think there's some wild band of athletes that are wandering around then I think you're mistaken. If you look at crime statistics these things happen everywhere and we're not any different than any other community
Uh-huh, and Torrington totally doesn't seem like a peculiar case of a football program being too fucking important. Just look at how well former Head Coach Dan Dunaj handled news of Gonzalez's felony robbery charge — he let Gonzalez play after a stern talking to:
I reeled the kid in after that, and he walked the line. As a coach I was doing something right.
To his credit, Dunaj insisted that, were he coaching Torrington when the sexual assault charges against Gonzalez were made public, he would definitely not have allowed Gonzalez to play. See, don't you feel better?
The sexual assault case against Gonzalez and Toribio remains sealed, according to Glenza, so some basic details remain unavailable. Right now, this is pretty much all the public knows:
They are charged with three identical felonies, including second-degree sexual assault of a 13-year-old victim in Torrington. In both cases, the investigation began Feb. 10, 2013. It's unclear if the two cases are connected...
...As the case remains sealed, basic details are unavailable, including where the incident is alleged to have occurred. Gonzalez's case was continued until April 2, Toribio's until April 23. Gonzalez is being held at New Haven Correction Center. Toribio is out on $50,000 professional surety bond.
According to public discussion in court Tuesday, Toribio is being electronically monitored and is being individually tutored.
Unfortunately, the public has been made all-too aware of some student reactions to the case, which sound, as The Daily Dot's Kevin Morris notes, like "disturbing echoes" from the Steubenville trial. Glenza has compiled screenshots of some of the most vile tweets and Facebook posts, like this shit-covered gem from @LoryyRamirez: "Even if it was all his fault, what was a 13 year old girl doing hanging around 18 year old guys.."
That outburst of awful, Glenza notes dismally, was reposted 11 times and favorited 6 times.