Connecticut High School Football

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13-year old accuser cyberbullied in wake of Torrington football player sexual assault arrests

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Screenshot from the Register-Citizen's website, highlighting its report on Torrington High School and two football players charged with sexual assault. Click the window to read the full story from the newspaper.

The Register Citizen of Torrington released a pretty explosive report on the state of Torrington High School and its football program today.

The story, by reporter Jessica Glenza, details a string of alleged dirty deeds and all around bad behavior by a few members of the team and the student population at-large.

The crux of the story is one we’ve become all-too familiar with this past week over in Steubenville, Ohio: Allegations of rape by two members of the football team — 18-year olds Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio — and a student body backlash against the apparent victim, in this case a 13-year old middle-school girl.

Students at Torrington have taken to social media to bully the girl indirectly. In Tweets, they refer to her as a “hoe,” accuse her of “snitching,” and blame her for “ruining two lives,” which mirrors the aftermath of the recent Steubenville rape convictions.

The Register-Citizen combed recent Twitter accounts and provided an extensive look at some of the more damning Tweets:

“Even if it was all his fault, what was a 13 year old girl doing hanging around 18 year old guys..” – @LoryyRamirez

Gonzalez and Toribio have each been charged with three felonies, including second-degree sexual assault of a 13-year old victim, the Register-Citizen reports. While Gonzalez is being held in New Haven, Toribio is out on a $50,000 $100,000 professional surety bond and is being monitored electronically.

The report goes on to portray other signs of trouble in the year leading up to the rape charges.

It details previous felony robbery and assault charges against Gonzalez and former Torrington player Jeffrey Holder in March 2012 and how Gonzalez remained a member of the football team in spite of it.

Ex football coach Dan Dunaj told the paper he was aware of it and allowed him to play during the 2012 season.

Former Torrington football coach Dan Dunaj

Dunaj, a former Seymour assistant who resigned in January after five years as Torrington’s head coach, defended his stance, saying he allowed Gonzalez to play to keep him from further off the rails.

From the story:

“I reeled the kid in after that, and he walked the line. As a coach I was doing something right.”

“My process has always been like this, and I learned this from my high school coach, and I never got into any big trouble thank god, but if you didn’t give the kid a chance then who’s going to?”

Torrington athletic director Mike McKenna told the Register-Citizen he was unaware of the felony robbery charge against Gonzalez:

“That situation would have caused him to be suspended from the team, I can tell you that, and kept on suspension until the conclusion of the case.”

Add in the reports of a hazing incident in September — which Dunaj reported and led to five-day, two-game suspensions for four football players — and overall the Register-Citizen story suggests student culture has gone afoul at Torrington High School.

McKenna disagreed.

“If you think there’s some wild band of athletes that are wandering around then I think you’re mistaken. … If you look at crime statistics these things happen everywhere and we’re not any different than any other community.”

That led to a scathing Register-Citizen editorial which took McKenna and the Torrington administration to task:

“We hope and trust that the posture of denial and defensiveness Torrington school officials have taken toward the idea that there is a culture of abuse and harassment emanating from the high school football program will be dropped very quickly this morning.”

Read the entire profile, which includes all of the Twitter comments, plus comments from the Superintendent Cheryl Kloczko and others in the Register-Citizen:

Register Citizen:

Updates:

The story has quickly hit the national consciousness, with aggregate news sites like Jezebel and the Daily Dot.

Hartford AP reporter Dave Collins has reached Gonzalez’s lawyer:

Gonzalez’s lawyer, J. Patten Brown III, said he hasn’t seen the state’s evidence yet, but has been told the charges allege consensual, but statutorily illegal, sex. He said Gonzalez is not making any admissions about having relations with the girl and intends to fight the charges.

“Oftentimes people are arrested and when all the facts come out they’re different than what people assumed,” Brown said.

Alaine Griffin of Hartford Courant reports a third student has been suspended due to the case.

In a press conference, Torrington police have said more arrests are possible.

Here’s WTNH’s report on the incident:

Sean Patrick Bowley

12 Responses

  1. Secondhand Rose says:

    Wow, you’re right on time with this story (NOT!) I read it in another newspaper 2 days ago.

  2. Huh? We’re just reporting that there is a story and highlights from it.

    And where was this story before Reg-Cit published it this morning? This is a serious question. Someone else have it?

  3. Truth says:

    Yes, it was in the register citizen when the two were arrested. In february. How could students go on and attack the 13 yr old victim on the internet. What is going on?

  4. Right. Reg-Cit was the first I’d heard of it.

  5. Avid Reader says:

    This seems to be a case where there is a lot of smoke, so we assume there must be a fire. But I am not sure if that is the case.

    Hazing, robbery, and statutory rape (and the subsequent bullying of the victim) are all terrible things. Nobody would debate that. But it is very easy for a skilled writer to paint the picture that all three incidents were related. And specifically related to the football program, when there seems to be no evidence that they are related at all.

    Hazing is something that has happened for decades and continues to happen to this day, albeit on a much smaller scale. A kid with a police record who gets a second chance to play football: that happens all the time.

    And the sexual assault, as disgusting as it is, does not seem like something that can be pinned on the football program itself. It happened in February and the players would surely not be allowed to play this upcoming year. It should be pinned on the young men who did it. Not every player and coach at Torrington should be made to feel dirty because of the actions of those two.

    Torrington needs to make sure that their football program is under control, because they will surely be under the microscope going forward. But to say the culture of Torrington football is toxic and actually led to the assault on the 13 year old girl seems to be very unfair.

  6. @Avid – I’d agree this isn’t completely fair to paint this as football issue, it’s more of an overall. But you can’t ignore the fact that they were football players and one of them was still playing with a few felony charges pending. Add that to the hazing incidents and it doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the program or the school. Is it at fault for the alleged assault? Maybe not directly, but there are plenty out there already connecting the dots, wondering if this was a symptom of a broader issue.

  7. Chuck Dolan says:

    A few years ago after a basketball playoff game they did something like mooning and got players suspended for the finals. What’s in the water up there?

  8. Perceval sweetwater says:

    The culture of entitlement and hero worship of athletes is the reason these tragedies continue. Until we come to our senses, another Steubenville or Penn State is inevitable.

  9. Peter Gerson says:

    I completely agree with the coaches decision to have these kids on the team, it’s clear that they were troubled before and even if the odds were against them maybe football would be the way they start looking at things different. Obviously it wasn’t in this case, but there was a chance it could have been, and if there’s any chance help change a young kids life for the better it would just be wrong not to take it. I don’t think this is a question of football players doing whatever they want and getting away with it, especially since all I learned from the game is that you have to be responsible and for everything you do there is always a repercussion for it, good or bad. Instead I think it’s more of an issue of the character of these young men and the lack of help they’ve recieved, a coach can only do so much for some people. It’s a terrible thing to happen and these kids will now have their names permantly tainted and have to deal with whatever punishment they recieve. As for the twitter, thats just blind mob mentality in my opinion. Just my two cents.

  10. Torrington says:

    The people in torrington pinned the hazing “scandal” on the coach. He had a hazing in his locker room and reported it. He lost his job because the parents of the hazers wanted his head. He was told not to comment on any hazing matter and had to watch while all blame was thrown his way. Torrington always needs someone to blame. In this case, they are trying to blame a Feb incident on him (he resigned in dec). The people in torrington can no longer blame him and have to look at the top.

    By the way, why is the register citizen article writier taking away from a victim. The actual crime is ignored.

    What these coaches went through in anonymous letters, emails, blog posting was terrible. The anonymous bullies capital of the world are finally being had. Thoughts go out to the victims. I pray they can recover.

  11. IOU says:

    Fire McKenna

  12. No Ax to Grind says:

    Someone needs to take those Boys out for some “Gardening”….

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