Steubenville Rallies for Real Victim: The Coach

The Steubenville rape scandal seemed to reach something of a conclusion when two football players were found guilty of raping a girl during a party last August. Certainly, more questions remained — from whether adults were aware of the incident and worked to cover it up, to how the trial might affect a culture of excess that has grown up around the sports program. At the very least, we now had a judge’s ruling that a crime was committed that night. In response to the ruling, the Steubenville community has come together to support the biggest victim of all: Steubenville football coach†Reno Saccoccia.

You may remember Saccoccia from a series of texts sent by convicted rapist Trent Mays to his fellow rapist Ma’lik Richardson in the days following their rape of a 16-year-old. In one, Mays said, “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 Iím not worried.”

Saccoccia has never explained what that text meant, what Saccoccia had done to take care of things, or what hilarious rape jokes he was telling the rapist who played for him. Indeed, Saccoccia may well have violated Ohio’s mandatory reporting laws; if he was aware of the sexual assault of a minor, as a school employee he was legally bound to report it. A similar failure brought down coaching legend Joe Paterno at Penn State University, and Saccoccia will face a grand jury investigation into his actions.

Despite all this, Steubenville residents have begun loudly defending “Coach Sac,” calling those who demand his ouster “haters” who are jealous of “a great football program and coach.” On a since-deleted Facebook event page, Saccoccia’s supporters called on Steubenville residents to rally in his support on March 30 at 4 P.M.

“This man does alot [sic] for kids, you cannot blame a coach for the actions of a few kids!” said the event page, which was put together by†Jackie Sacripanti. The page made no mention of the rape victim, nor did it mention any of the controversy surrounding Saccoccia’s actions.

Saccoccia and his staff have been handling the debacle indelicately, including one assistant coach, Nate Hubbard, who told the New York Times that the†rape charges were a “rush to judgment.”

“What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?” said Hubbard, who played for Saccoccia in High School. “She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”

Whatever Saccoccia’s supporters may think, however, the simple fact is that two of his players raped a girl, and at least one of them went to Saccoccia to try to take care of the matter. Unfortunately for Mays, and fortunately for justice, Saccoccia could not prevent him from being found delinquent.

Saccoccia may be hoping his supporters will take care of the legal and ethical charges swirling around him and his program. That their continued insistence that Saccoccia is a great man and that the victim of the rape doesn’t really matter will help a winning coach keep his job. And perhaps it will — sadly, we’ve seen rape ignored many times before by those who put winning ahead of victims. What his supporters cannot do, however, is wash away Saccoccia’s sins. He will always be the “leader of men” who, when made aware that some of those men might be rapists, was willing to crack a joke and suggest that he could maybe take care of the problem. If that’s the price of winning, it’s far, far too high.


Related Stories

Steubenville Rapists Convicted, but Damage is Done

Steubenville Defense: No “No” Means “Yes”

Town Defends Football Stars After They Raped Unconscious Woman


Image Credit: Daniel Herrick


Annmari Lundin
Annmari L4 years ago

Only 11,600 have signed this petition and I'm disappointed so few wants to work to change things. Please visit:
and sign.

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

No words.... Shame!

Christine W.
Christine W4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Bill and Katie D.

What a "LOUSY ROLE MODEL" For the students! He needs to be fully investigated and sentenced with the other two! HE WAS THE CONTRIBUTOR TO THE CRIME! Furnishing alcohol and the party!

Iona Kentwell
Iona Kentwell4 years ago

Disgusting. This man knew what had happened and did not disclose it. I believe he should be PROSECUTED, not have the town up in arms to SUPPORT him!

lee e.
lee e4 years ago

I can only surmise that Stupidville is f'd up! - don't want to ever set foot in your perverted territory!

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

Sure, all one big dysfunctional family. Carried to the extreme, now that we have cracked the genetic code, there is good evidence that practically all life on earth --all the genomes can be arranged in one big family tree. So that make all life on earth one big family.

Winn Adams
Winn A4 years ago

I wonder how the coach would feel if someone did this to a girl/woman in his family. He should be held as accountable as the 2 who were convicted.

Sylvia B.
Sylvia B4 years ago

In some small towns, the local residents celebrate the high school sports prorgam in such a way as to be almost cultlike. Considering that most, if not all, the people are related to each other, it makes for a large-scale dysfunctional family system. Steubenville is a good example of it. I wonder how many incidents of incest and rape has gone on in that town all these years. Probably half of the residents there should be in jail, or officially listed as sex offenders.

Leuth Novotny
.4 years ago

None of this has been surprising. Sadly despicable but not surprising. Welcome to the species.