EDITORIAL: Adults need to be accountable in assault on teen

The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·2 min read

Apr. 19—A 2017 assault by four members of the Blue Earth High School football squad against their teammate — he was beaten until unconscious and afterward pressured to keep the secret of his bullies' behavior — no doubt permanently affected the victim who ended up moving from the community.

The four youths behind the crime eventually were charged and their cases processed in the criminal justice system. The hope is that immaturity and incomplete brain development were part of their bad behavior, and they've learned from that ugly time in their lives.

Adults involved in lying to protect the assailants have no such excuse.

Last week the Minnesota Appeals Court rightly supported the perjury conviction of a Blue Earth woman for lying to the court in the assault case. She'd claimed one of the teens involved in giving the teammate a severe concussion was not at the party where the attack occurred, but was instead at her house. Her daughter was dating the suspect at the time.

Two other adults also were accused of obstructing the assault investigation. The charges against them will be dismissed in September if they complete probation.

The fact that the perjury conviction was appealed points to the lack of accountability this adult is admitting in the case.

The participation of these parents — and any adults in the school district who pretended they didn't know about or opposed criminal prosecution in this brutal attack — shines a harsh spotlight on the drastic measures some take to shield their children from taking responsibility.

There was an important football game at stake, and that seemed to be a driving force for keeping the assault on the down low. The 16-year-old victim in the beating didn't play in Blue Earth's state playoff game. His attackers did.

It took far too long for the investigation to take place and, in the meantime, the victim not only suffered physically from a dangerous untreated head injury — he told his parents he had the flu — but he also was bullied for being a victim and pressured to stay quiet about it.

The adults who supported that mob mentality and became part of it by looking the other way or deliberately trying to derail the criminal prosecution should be just as ashamed as the students who perpetrated the attack.

No one is going to remember the score of a football game as years go by. Everyone will remember the coverup of a brutal attack that scarred a community.