At the end of last year, Rachael Denhollander ] The first woman to publicly report that the former US gymnastics doctor and Michigan State University Larry Nassar had abused her, said it is about enabling gender violence: "Enabling does not usually resemble someone who says' Oh, you're a rapist and the rape is fine, so let's keep violating. "Enabling resembles deliberate indifference It seems like extreme negligence It seems to silence the victims It seems an immediate presumption of innocence towards the perpetrator .
These are the words that have resonated in my mind during the last week, while the news revolved around what Urban Meyer, the soccer coach of the Ohio State University, knew and did not know, and what he did and did not do after multiple reports of domestic violence against a long-time assistant coach, Zach Smith
Last month, Meyer fired his receiver trainer and recruiting coordinator, ] news break that Courtney Smith, Zach's ex-wife, had applied for a civil protection order for domestic violence against her ex-husband, following an incident earlier this year that led to Zach Smith to be accused of committing a crime.
This could have been a small story that would only have interested Buckeyes fans, despite that it was not Smith's first brush with the law or being denounced for domestic violence, and this was not the case. The first time Meyer knew.
In this long moment of Me Too, … we should concentrate on the facilitators of abusive behavior.
Smith has met Meyer most of his life, as Smith's grandfather, Earle Bruce was coach Chief of Ohio State and Meyer's mentor. Smith also played with Meyer when Meyer was a coach at Bowling Green State University. In 2009, when Smith was a graduate assistant who worked for Meyer at the University of Florida, he was arrested for aggravated battery in a pregnant victim. The pregnant woman was his then wife, Courtney. In 2012, Meyer hired Smith for his staff at Ohio State. In 2015, the police investigated Zach Smith for serious crimes of domestic violence and criminal assault against Courtney Smith.
The day after all this news and Meyer fired Smith, Meyer, one of the most successful and best-paid coaches in the game, told reporters ] that he knew about the 2009 incident, that "what was reported was not really what happened", and that he and his wife had advised the Smiths to come to counseling. About the 2015 incident, he initially said, "there was nothing … I do not know who creates a story like that", but later that day he changed his story to say that he had only learned about the incident the day before.
Last week, the college football reporter who told this story, Brett McMurphy, published a piece in which Courtney Smith commented on the 2015 incident, "all the wives [coaches’] knew, everyone did it, everyone." Along with her words, McMurphy posted photos of her and text messages that she conveyed that said not only documents what Zach Smith did to her physically, but also evidence that Meyer's wife and others knew it.
In response to the public scandal and the Clear possibility that Meyer had lied about what he knew, Ohio State placed him on paid administrative license and created a panel to investigate.
Meyer then released a statement contradicting what he said in July, acknowledging that he knew about Smith's report in 2015 and now affirming that he "followed the proper reporting protocols and procedures." I guess the third time is a charm when it comes to clarifying your story.
For his part, Zach Smith denies everything (he was never prosecuted or convicted, although in the last three years, Courtney Smith received a restraining order and now a order of protection against him). It also says that Ohio State athletic director, Gene Smith, knew about the 2015 incident and did nothing. According to The Columbus Dispatch "Smith's performance reviews … make no mention of the accusation or any action taken as a result."
If it feels like a story you've heard before, there's a good reason for that. This reflects very closely what happened last year with football from the University of Colorado except the head coach there, Mike MacIntyre, who escaped without punishment despite not reporting the abusive behavior of his coach assistant. You may be thinking of similar qualifying stories from Penn State or Baylor or Texas A & M or Michigan State .
Or maybe you're thinking about one of the many stories that will emerge from the state of Ohio in recent months. There are more than 100 alumni, including many former male fighters who reported that team doctor Richard Strauss abused them while working in the state of Ohio between 1979 and 1997. There is a diver who is suing the university because he was repeatedly abused a few years ago by a diving coach from the state of Ohio . The unit of the recently closed school the Sexual Civility and Empowerment Unit, is in charge of assisting the victims of sexual assault that was found, instead, as a mishandling and harassing students. There are federal investigations of Title IX at the university.
And within all these tales of abuse and misconduct, there are facilitators. The best-known example is Jim Jordan, the Ohio congressman who wants to be the next speaker in the House of Representatives and who was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State when Strauss was there. Multiple fighters have said that Jordan was one of those people who knew and did not do anything. Jordan has denied it.
Two fighters say Ohio State wrestling coach Russ Hellickson has pressured them to retract, a facilitator helping a facilitator. And over the weekend, Jordan's last qualification for a sexual predator occurred on the Ohio stage when he embraced President Donald Trump.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Eszter Pryor the diver who is suing the state of Ohio, he said, "if [the people who protect those reported for abuse] continues to hide the problem and protect itself from bad publicity, they are just as bad as the author."
It is possible that we never knew what all Meyer knew and when, or why exactly he made the choices he made (the same goes for Jordan or sporting director Gene Smith), but it seems there is a change going on if, even at the highest levels of the most valued college sport in our society, men may have to respond by empowering those around them.
People who do physical harm are not the only ones to blame for this It is also the people that Denhollan is He mentioned: those who look the other way, who excuse the behavior or refuse to believe that the behavior is possible, who silence the victims. In this very long time of Me Too, as we face how to cure exactly what ails us in a country that has a problem of harassment and gender violence, we must focus on the facilitators of abusive behavior.
Our ability to tolerate indifference, extreme negligence, silencing victims or the immediate presumption of innocence towards the perpetrator is diminishing. Finally . But not fast enough.
Jessica Luther is an independent journalist, author and co-author of the feminist sports podcast "Burn It All Down".