Vinton County: Victim Blaming/Shaming and Lack of Bystander Intervention

This week 45-year old Dewey Thacker of MacArthur, Ohio was charged with crimes associated with doing nothing while a 12-year old wrestler was assaulted in the wrestling room at Vinton County High School. Seven wrestlers were involved in what some locals are referring to as “horseplay” but what legally amounts to sexual assault and battery.

Dewey Thacker has been charged with child endangerment, unlawful restraint, complicity to riot (meaning he must have instigated the assault) and complicity to assault.

It seems like this type of behavior is never going to end. I simply cannot fathom for one second how anyone can think this way – especially a woman who has children of her own. I’m leaving the names intact on the Facebook posts because as far as I’m concerned, it was in the public domain so these individuals can own their words. It also is tangible evidence of the very bad and negative sports culture individuals and communities around our country share — on what seems a daily basis. I do have to say that I have seen A LOT of people speaking out in outrage about this. That’s good.

Shockingly, the commenter Johnna Goodwin Owings works for the Vinton County Board of Developmental Disabilities and claims that the assault is “exaggerated bullshit”. If that doesn’t anger you that someone whose job it is to protect those with disabilities, I don’t know what will. Absolutely disgusting and obviously she has a dog in the fight. Maybe she is related to one of the teen criminals.

These are comments from the local newspaper Facebook page. I should be shocked. I’m not. There are far too many adults who make excuses for their child or others because of their athletic ability, and who victim blame or shame. I am posting several comments that I found on the Vinton Courier Facebook page. I’m pretty disgusted at the attitudes.

First of all, school sports are a PRIVILEGE. Not a requirement. PERIOD. Stating that “this stuff” went on “back in … the day” is ridiculous and dangerous. So did burning at the stake and we have evolved as a society so that those don’t happen anymore. We should have evolved enough that as adults one would know better than to place blame on the victim of assault. I don’t think there will be much twisting in this case as there was 30 minutes of school surveillance tape documenting what occurred, and all the while as Dewey Thacker did absolutely nothing. This child is 12-years old. The boys responsible are in their teens and should know better. I blame the parents who have systematically failed to teach their child values and good behavior. From what I have seen written online — I am not one bit surprised. Sadly, the attitudes are no different than they were in 2012 when Steubenville parents and locals were behaving in the same disgusting manner.

Crystal King acknowledges that the twelve year old is a child, but she totally loses when she goes on to allege that a 12 year old CHILD has “harassed all of these kids for years now and suddenly they have an issue when its retaliated”. SERIOUSLY? I think what disturbs me more than anything is the callousness with which these people are dismissing what happened – a sexual assault – and that they are blaming a 12-year old child because he picked on older kids. It doesn’t even make any sense, but again…I just am not surprised anymore. Cases like this are why it is IMPERATIVE to get into these schools and educate young people about consent and bystander intervention. It’s obvious that the parents and enablers of the teens involved have failed at just that. Being “goosed” is NOT OKAY! The end!! WTF is wrong with these ghouls?

This is going to be very screenshot image heavy, but I think it is important that people read the comments and realize we have a huge problem with perception of assault, bullying and an even bigger issue when it comes to consent, body boundaries and the lack of bystander intervention.

I’m not holding my breath for this school district to do the right thing and punish all involved. Not only do they need to be punished, but they need to be educated about bullying and body boundaries.

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