If you haven't already heard, the Satterfield/Everson sexual assault case has already become much uglier. The Press-Citizen published a letter from the alleged victim's mother to University of Iowa officials on Saturday. Her letter was dated November 19, 2007, five weeks after the incident occurred, and five days after the University of Iowa publicly acknowledged an investigation. If even half the letter's claims are true, the University of Iowa's reputation and integrity must be called into question. We won't force the minutiae and details on our readers here. If you want that, you can read the P-C article here, and OPS covered the serious questions raised here.
With that, please, an aside. When we started this enterprise a year ago, we never envisioned a day when we'd have to write about something nearly as serious as this. And though it makes us sick to talk about it, it's not something we, as a community, can continue to ignore. A young woman was damaged in a way that no one can repair, and as if the incident itself wasn't bad enough, she was damaged again and again by the people at the university who were supposed to protect her.
The following is an open letter to them. Within this letter, we're providing them their only possible response. It's no solution. There's no redemption here. Things at the University of Iowa are bad, tragically so, but it's time to drag our ugliness into the light.
To: Sally Mason, UI President, Gary Barta, UI AD, Fred Mims, UI Associate AD, Betsy Altmaier, representative on the Presidential Committee of Athletics, and Kirk Ferentz, UI Head Football Coach.
This must have been a long nightmare for all of you. We don't envy any of you, nor do we know what it's like to be in your position. Further, we do not hold you responsible for what happened to that young woman. This isn't about that. This is about everything after. From the moment the victim personally relayed the incident to you, until now, you've done the wrong thing, every step of the way.
How any of you can look yourself in the mirror is unfathomable. You're supposed to be leaders. You're supposed to be educators. You're supposed to be a family. Yet when you had an opportunity to do the right thing, you did the wrong thing. You didn't look out for the victim. You didn't look out for her family. You didn't even look out for the players involved. You just tried to cover it up and make it all go away. You thought suspensions and transfers would suffice in lieu of actual punishment. But that's over now. No more cover up. No more denials. No more "no comments". No more disingenuous prepared statements. It's time to do the right thing.
Here's the new plan: Resign, all of you. That's non-negotiable. We trusted you with our children and you betrayed us. You've shamed the state of Iowa, the university, the athletic department, the fans, and yourselves. Every day you continue to be employed at the University of Iowa is a day that the UI tells the world that at this school, integrity takes a back seat to PR at all costs. This isn't a football issue, this is a human issue. All of you need to start over, elsewhere, and preferably not in a profession that leaves the well-being of young adults as part of your responsibilities. You don't have to admit that you did anything wrong, just that you're ready to do something right.
Next, you need to cooperate with the investigation and do everything in your power to see that justice is properly served. The truth works best in situations like this - try it. If given the opportunity to go back to that October day when you first heard of the assault, I'm sure all of you would do things differently, but you can't do that. No one associated with this incident is ever going to feel good about it, but the first step to making things better is in your hands, so let's all move forward and start by putting the best interests of that young woman first. Nothing else matters.
The Staff of BHGP