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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
“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:
- Victim bullied after rape allegations against Torrington football players.
- Arrest reports
- EDITORIAL: Bullying of rape victim exposes big problem in Torrington schools
The story has quickly hit the national consciousness, with aggregate news sites like Jezebel and the Daily Dot.
- Jezebel: Another sexual assault victim bullied online after rape accusations of Connecticut football players
- The Daily Dot: In small Connecticut town, it’s Steubenville all over again
- The Daily Mail (UK): Torrington football stars, 18, charged with sexually assaulting girl, 13, who classmates are now calling a ‘snitch’ and a ‘whore’ on social media.
- The Daily News (NY): 2 high school football players in Torrington, Conn. charged with sexual assault of 13-year old girl
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: