For the first time, we have heard from the victim, via a letter she sent to University of Iowa President Sally Mason, in November. She allowed the Press Citizen to publish the letter that appeared in their Saturday, July 19th edition.
The contents of the letter have sent the Iowa fan base into a myriad of emotions. Some fans feel as though their excitement for the upcoming football season has been swept out from underneath them. Some fans are acting out defiantly in the face of the letter and some allegations. Some of those emotions are raw, knee jerk, inappropriate but in all cases, heart felt.
We are talking about a topic that people are passionate about, which is Iowa football. We are also talking about a topic that creates a lot of passion in people that are parents, and when they put themselves in the place of the parents of the victim, based on the allegations contained in the letter, their reaction is one of disappointment and in some instances, disgust.
I have received numerous emails from Iowa fans from all around the world over the weekend, since the Saturday paper hit the newsstands and the internet. My telephone hasn't stopped ringing, with friends and peers calling to talk about this situation.
Some people are questioning the future of the program, some are questioning it more than they were already.
I guess the bottom line of all of this, as I see it, is that the Iowa football fan base is fracturing even more than it has over the past 12 to 24 months.
The losses began to mount, which caused some people to fidget Then the losses came in addition to improper off the field behavior.
Once Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield were officially charged with second degree sexual assault back in late May, the fissures widened even more
Some fans were hopeful that the upcoming season might turn the focus back to the gridiron, while still understanding the need for these serious allegations to be adjudicated.
But the masses were not necessarily prepared to read what they read on Saturday. It puts the program and the athletic department as a whole in a very bad light.
The letter, the revelations that the letter was apparently not shared with the Iowa Board of Regents when they conducted their investigation into Iowa's handling of the situation, and Governor Chet Culver's comments have shaken the foundations of a lot of people.
It has shaken me as well. But it has brought me to asking several questions, questions that will likely need to be answered at some point. I am sure that many of you and many in the media will have similar questions.
Here is a partial list of what I would like to know, based off of letter from the victims mother to Sally Mason:
- President Mason, did you not remain in contact and communication with the family, per the assertions in the letter?
- President Mason, did you ever receive the letter the victim's mother wrote to you, and if so, why didn't you share this letter with the Board of Regents, who assert that you did not do that?
Gary Barta, who was the person or persons that the victim's family suggests strongly recommended the matter to be handled internally? Why wasn't there legal counsel present for both sides at the meeting?
Kirk Ferentz, what role did you play in these discussions? Was it ongoing?
Rape Advocacy Representative Carla Miller, why did you say on Channel 13 television on May 27th that Iowa had followed proper procedures and had been handling the situation with the utmost concern for the victim, when in the Press Citizen article on Saturday, you gave comments that certainly make it sound like that was not the case?
To whomever put it together; how in the world could Iowa have a University policy that requires the Athletic Department to conduct its own investigations into allegations of sexual assault involving athletes Did you learn nothing from the first Pierre Pierce saga
These are just the first questions that come to my mind, and I have several more.
That being said, I also want to hear Iowa's side of the story. I want to hear what they have to say in response to the letter from the victim's mother, that represents their side of things
Do not mistake that for me dismissing contents of the letter out of hand.
But in instances like this, just like in life and the American legal system, there multiple sides to stories and series of events, and those accounts have to be heard.
I don't know to what degree Kirk Ferentz, Gary Barta or others were involved in this process, outside of the allegations contained the letter. I don't know what was told to the victims, outside of what was contained in the letter, nor do I know who told what to whom. We don't have all sides to this.
I also have had a relationship, or an exposure, to Ferentz for nearly a decade. A few of the things some people are suggesting or assuming just don't jive with the man I have gotten to know during that time. Some of the things that some folks are assuming, asserting, throwing against the wall, are inconsistent with the actions I have seen from Ferentz.
More questions come to mind as I write this…at one point, according to the letter, the victim's family was comfortable with there being an internal handling of the situation. I can speculate as to why they might want to go that route.
Based on what was said in the letter, the amount of time that passed by without their being satisfied is just one of the things that led them to go to the authorities.
For all intents and purposes, Ferentz removed Satterfield and Everson from the Iowa football program after meeting with the victim and her father, in the presence of Barta, Fred Mims and others. I suspect the player's futures in the program were done at that point. That was 36 hours after the alleged incident took place.
I don't know what the process is for kicking people out of school, but some folks are wondering why they were not removed right away. It's a fair question, and one that I share.
But I must admit that I am not totally aware of the processes and procedures that have to be followed. That's not making any sort of excuse, it's just the truth; I don't know, and I am guessing that many of you do not, either. I want to find the answers to that question, too.
I have several feelings on a lot of this, but right now I simply have more questions. The answers, for me, won't come until I hear what Iowa has to say about a lot of things contained in the letter from the victim's mother. I cannot sit here and formulate concrete opinions until I see the entire picture.
We did 'hear from Iowa' on some levels. The following is the statement they released to the Press Citizen that also appeared in Saturday's paper:
"We understand the strong emotions arising from this difficult case and continue to feel compassion for what this student and her family must be going through. The safety and well-being of the student has always been at the forefront of our concern. Each step of the way everyone involved with the University worked in accordance with University policy and procedures and attempted to convey those policies and procedures to the student and her family. At all times, she and her family had the ability to determine whether to pursue this matter within the University or outside of it, and we repeatedly informed them of those options. At a certain point, the student and her family chose to file a criminal report, an action which the University fully supported. Currently, the case continues to work its way through the criminal process. The University will not make further comments until that process is concluded. Again, this has been a very difficult and tragic situation for all concerned. We feel sympathy for all of those involved and look forward to a fair resolution of the case as soon as possible."
So in this response, we have Iowa saying they repeated informed the family of their options of perusing matters internally, or externally.
Again, more questions to ask, but some of these questions that come to your mind, and to my mind, would also be for the parents of the victim.
The reality is that we probably will not get answers to all of our questions.
But some of them will have to be expanded upon beyond the realm of the release.