Jerry Sandusky and Larry Nassar were just the beginning.
Because the discussion surrounding the sexual assault and abuse that takes place in sports is nowhere near a conclusion.
On Tuesday, a report by the North Jersey Media Group detailed how Bergen Catholic School officials worked together to cover up a sexual abuse scandal inside the wrestling program at the all-boys school.
And according to reports, the abuse included coaches watching student-athletes as they stripped naked, the sharing of pornographic images, and inappropriate texts from coaches sent to athletes.
According to the 29-page, 12-count lawsuit, the school and Newark Archdioceses worked together to protect the coaches and not the students.
Its the same playbook used at Baylor, Penn State, and Michigan State: Protect abusers, keep it quiet and make it go away.
Institutions and policies must be in place to ensure that abuse ceases to occur with impunity, Dr. Catherine Burnette, a professor within the School of Social Work at Tulane University, told the New York Daily News.
Officials working in academic, educational, sports, or any other agency must be held accountable for a failure to appropriately address such abuse; this negligence has only perpetuated these crimes.
Last Sunday, HBO released its highly anticipated movie titled Paterno, which focuses on the last days of Joe Paterno as the head football coach at Penn State as the Jerry Sandusky scandal exploded, and what he did and didnt do, and what he actually knew but didnt want to admit, about the sexual abuse that children suffered for decades due to those that enabled child predator Sandusky.
After learning that adults turned a blind eye to Nassar, allowing him to assault hundreds of children for years while working for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, it was an all too sudden reminder that this behavior has been tolerated for far too long.
And on Monday, a federal lawsuit was filed accusing three members of Michigan States basketball team of raping an 18-year-old student a week after the team lost in the 2015 Final Four.
According to the lawsuit, the woman reported the rape to a counselor at the Michigan State University Counseling Center.
However, when the counselor learned the alleged assault involved members of the basketball team, staffers from the center made it clear to Plaintiff that if she chose to notify the police, she faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention and publicity as had happened with many other female students who were sexually assaulted by well-known athletes.
Said Dr. Burnette, What continues to be coming to light, however, is respect and dignity is not the experience of many women and minorities, but rather attack and oppression.
According to Burnette, society is facing a three-pronged issue when it comes to sexual assault and abuse, which all revolves around accountability.
First, policies must be in place to ensure that abuse ceases to occur along with some form of punishment.
Secondly, survivors must normalize the action of speaking out so that others feel safe enough to speak their truths.
And thirdly, those who know about the abuse need to be held just as accountable as the perpetrators.
As the conversation around this systemic corruption continues, keeping it in the 24-hour news cycle we currently live in, I asked Dr. Burnette if this could also affect survivors by triggering emotions and experiences they dont care to relive.
It can be both, she said. The greater awareness and acknowledgment of violence against women can be an opportunity for accountability, validation, and community healing, painful as it may be. It just depends on the circumstances of the survivor and the opportunities for growth in the situation.
Discussing what vile adults do to children isnt an easy thing for anybody.
It can also be difficult for survivors and parents, the steady reminder of what theyve already endured or failed to stop.
However, the necessary evil in all of this is that the coverage of these scandals has led to more victims coming forward and more abusers being exposed.
The conversation around sexual assault and abuse is an uncomfortable one that has to continue.
Because if we stop, then we all become enablers.