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The Steubenville rape trial verdict finding two teen players of the famed Big Red football team guilty of sexually assaulting an under-aged girl this past summer was barely an hour old when Ohio’s state attorney announced his office would continue pursuing the many others who knew about the incident and yet failed to intervene or report it.
And that’s not just a minor issue anymore—parents, police, and public officials are the prime targets of the latest investigation into the crimes and cover ups of the Steubenville footballers’ notorious crew of gangbangers.
Chief among those who will soon see their names on a grand jury's hit list, therefore, will be the beloved head coach of Big Red football himself, Reno Saccoccia.
Coach Reno, as he's simply known in his hometown, has been leading Big Red for 30 years now and his 85 percent victory rate has made the man a demigod…to say the least.
But many critics of Steubenville and Big Red's inglorious "Rape Crew" say Reno's also been leading the boys he coaches astray as well. Particularly in the morals department.
Reno's got it taken care of
That's the upbeat sounding message convicted rapist Trent Mays had sent to a few of his co-rapists, days before anyone else outside of Steubenville had even heard about this now-infamous incident.
"I got Reno," Mays confidently texted a thus-far unnamed recipient. "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 I'm not worried."
Not being "worried" when the youth knew he had done something seriously wrong, plus taking other illegal steps such as establishing a fake alibi and intimidating witnesses, is what got defendant Mays a bigger sentence than his codefendant Ma'lik Richmond did, by the way.
And since this incriminating message of his proves that Saccoccia knew a young girl had been viciously raped by his players, and even thought it was funny, therein is where the coach's problems lie today.
In fact, some are now comparing his criminal conundrum and culpability to that of Joe Paterno in the Sandusky pedophilia scandal that almost swallowed up Penn State University.
This might not be such a stretch either, in view of the fact that, under Ohio statutes concerning the protection of minors by all school officials, Coach Reno had a special obligation to rush to the victim's aid, not her victimizers'.
Big Red fish in a little pond
When the scandal first broke last year, thanks to the courage of the victim and her parents as well as activist bloggers and the hacktivist group Anonymous, Reno Saccoccia didn't hesitate to flex his supremacy and powerful connections, in hopes of eradicating from "his" small Ohio city the dozens of nosy reporters that had suddenly descended upon it.
"You're going to get yours," he threatened them when confronted with their probing questions and microphones. "And if you don't get yours, somebody close to you will."
He is a mighty man, Reno wanted these ignorant outsiders to be aware of. A very big fish in a very small pond.
Still, regardless of his mightiness and a legacy of astounding wins, the less than winsome Coach Reno is going to end up in jail, too. Only he won't receive quite the lenient treatment his players did, charged merely as misbehaving children and tried only in a juvenile court system.
Reno will get a lengthy sentence once the full extent of his involvement is finally revealed. And then, just as Jerry Sandusky is doing right now, he'll be serving that term in one of the state's maximum security pens.
This is the inevitable outcome should the influential and illustrious coach ever be charged with wrongdoing, no matter how long it takes or what ill effect his incarceration may have on Big Red's future prospects.
Perhaps the glory days of that overly-prized football program is already a thing of the past anyway, considering the shameful misconduct of the team and its supporters, and this season's rather dismal performance.
Even so, the sad comeuppance is a necessary penalty, and an important reminder to all those who aided and abetted their star "juvenile offenders" that when one undertakes to conceal a crime, one commits a crime as well.
Exactly how much time Saccoccia and his corrupt cronies will do depends on exactly how many such crimes they did…
Many mainstream news outlets had an accidentally-on-purpose kind of moment in the minutes immediately following the reading of the Steubenville Two's guilty verdict:
Defendant Mays was issuing a strategic and belated apology to his victim and in the process mentioned her by name—also a questionable move considering the cunning and cowardice of this untrustworthy young offender.
In any event, whether he deliberately outed her as a subtle act of revenge or not, it's still standard protocol for the media NOT to release such a rape victim's name.
Yet that longstanding practice didn't stop the major networks from illicitly capitalizing on the surprise disclosure, apparently viewing the unusual manner in which the revelation was made as some sort of ethical loophole.
It's difficult to say which was worse, publishing the name of the girl and exposing her to new threats, or in subsequent broadcasts expressing profound sympathy for her convicted rapists, even though doing so was not only insensitive, but despicable and pathetic.
Such callous disregard for decency and respect clearly shows that the ugly mindset which resulted in the Steubenville Rape Scandal is hardly limited to Big Red.