To the editor:
As a native of Steubenville who moved away to go to college, but has remained close to my beloved Steubenville High School and city for 42 years, I feel compelled to share my feelings as follows regarding not only the alleged ( I only use this word to respect the legal process) rape that occurred this past August, but also the the circus of events that has followed.
There is no question that if such a crime has been committed, those involved should be punished - the purported acts, if proven, are reprehensible and criminal. So much of the vitriol however, seems not to be about the incident, but the city, its people, the high school, the football team and the coaches. No city or institution is perfect, because such entities are made up of people, and the last I looked, there are no perfect people. I am sure that over time, those who have made mistakes will suffer the consequences and all parties will long suffer the consequences of what occurred.
But, given some of the comments of those natives claiming to be glad they left long ago, I want to state I, for one, am proud to be from Steubenville, a city that integrated its schools for the right reasons long before the various private schools found out that African-American athletes were faster on the field, so therefore decided to integrate. I am proud that my integrated city with an average income barely above the poverty level and an average age closer to senior level passes school levies time and time again, while other cities use all of the above excuses as reasons not to pass a school levy. I am proud to have had coaches and teachers like Bob Haskins, John Georgiafandis, Chuck Watt, Abe Bryan, Jene Watkins and George Medich, who were committed and taught me as a youth not to see color or creed, but to see hope for all. I am proud that folks like Dan Spahn, Bob Radakovich, Mark Stacy, Gary Repella and Joe Corabi all chose to return and serve the community. And yes, yes, I am proud that my peer growing up, Reno Saccoccia, has mentored and coached so many young people as the leader of Big Red football, continuing that tradition. You see, my high school doesn't turn its back on people, nor does my native city - it just doesn't quit, ever.
Steubenville, you are not perfect. These are difficult times and things will get worse before they get better. Look in the mirror, be honest about your shortcomings, learn from this, but don't think for one moment you will not overcome this and shine. There are many, many out here, like me, who wince, who hurt about all that is going on, but are still so very proud of our hometown, our school and of you.
I am a proud native of Steubenville and a very proud graduate of Steubenville High School,