Evidence shows Saccoccia knew about the rape early on, but didn't report it. So why does he still have his job?
Under Ohio state law, coaches are among the many school officials mandated to report crimes involving their students. And according to witness testimony and text messages introduced as evidence in the Steubenville rape trial, head football coach Reno Saccoccia knew about the rape of a 16-year-old girl by two of his players, but didn’t say a word about it to school administrators or local law enforcement.
So why does he still have a job?
Deadspin editor Barry Petchesky has a theory, and it’s that, much like Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, “local legend” Saccoccia believed that his status as a local football celebrity put him above the law:
Reno Saccoccia is a local legend, in the way that 30-year coaches of football powerhouses in economically depressed Ohio Valley towns tend to be legends. He’s in the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame. He’s won three state titles. When Saccoccia won his 300th game last year, a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 people packed Harding Stadium—christened “Reno Field” in 2007—and chanted “Reno, Reno, Reno” as he left the field.
But text messages seized from Mays’ cellphone indicate that Saccoccia had seen the video in which another student “joked” that “Trent and Ma’lik raped someone” as soon as it was released.
The day after the incident, Mays texted a friend: “I got Reno. He took care of it and shit ain’t gonna happen, even if they did take it to court. Like he was joking about it so I’m not worried,” according to an agent with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who testified in the rape case.
As Petchesky notes, “the players were convinced they were untouchable because they’d committed the rape on Saccoccia’s turf … They were right, for a while.” Adding, “If the Times hadn’t turned its eyes to Steubenville, and hacker groups not exposed the graphic evidence, it’s a legitimate question whether justice would have been done at all. Whether or not Saccoccia took a personal hand in protecting his players, the Steubenville reaction is a symptom of what happens in a football-mad small town run by a deified coach.”
Petchesky makes a crucial point, but it is important to add that this kind of coverup behavior isn’t limited to small towns with untouchable local celebrities — it’s a symptom of a culture that normalizes sexual assault on the regular, especially in high school and college settings.
But Saccoccia isn’t in the clear. While the trial against Mays and Richmond ended with a guilty verdict for both boys, Ohio state Attorney General Mike DeWine’s investigation into the parents, coaches and school officials who may have tried to hide the rape is ongoing.
It’s an investigation that DeWine hopes will show that ignoring sexual violence when it’s right in front of our faces isn’t a problem unique to small football towns, but an issue that cuts across all communities — yours and mine included.
More Related Stories
- I'm not achieving my dreams!
- The most popular Tumblr porn
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Snapchat is secretly storing your photos
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- When my home was destroyed
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- You are less beautiful than you think
- "Ghetto" tour lets you gawk at New York's poor
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11