To the editor:
What happened at an end-of-the-summer party for high school kids turned very ugly and shocked the community. And what transpired afterward was inexcusable on the part of those who chose to be spectators or distributors, via cell phone or other communication technology.
We can all agree what happened should be dealt with severely. But what we have to realize is that others can be unjustly victimized by what we do and say out of speculation created by rumors. A very basic story was released by the media, and it is horrendous. Everything else that you hear outside the media is, at best, speculation until the investigation is complete.
Big Red high school has always been a school to be proud of and, like other schools, will have students pass through its halls who get involved with scandalous behavior, but we can't judge an entire student body or a team of athletes because the scandalous deed was so abhorrent. There are rumors about possible additional involvement of other athletes, but until the justice system charges them, it would be irresponsible for the school or athletic department to make a judgment based on rumors. I am sure that if there are others involved they will be dealt with as severely as the two who presently sit in jail if they are found guilty.
This type of criminal behavior makes it difficult to honor the adage of "innocent until proven guilty," but if we let the severity of the crime cloud our judgment and seek to destroy reputations and careers of those who have done so much for our children without waiting for all the facts, we become the equivalent of a lynch mob. It seems to me that we should seek to punish all who come out of this as guilty parties, whether by participation or attempted cover-up or for the perversion of photographing and distributing this horror, but we must be careful not to seek overkill and extend the damage done by this travesty.
The vast majority of students in our community represent their schools well and should not be tarnished by this atrocity and we shouldn't allow our community to accept a scarlet letter that can follow the students of this valley through college and their careers. Let's see that justice is done to those deserving of punishment no matter where it leads and protect those who are not a part of what happened or the aftermath. Let's be careful not to allow gossip to injure our community or cover the staff and faculty at Big Red with a cloud of suspicion. We are slow to praise them and quick to blame them when the children that they didn't raise go astray. What happened to that young girl cannot be erased, but she deserves justice, not misdirected anger that can create additional victims. I am certain that the state investigation will be thorough. At that time, we can use facts - not innuendoes - as finger pointers.