Trymaine Lee of HuffPost Black Voices is reporting that between 1971 and 1991, Donald Fitzpatrick, a longtime Red Sox clubhouse manager, systematically molested and abused African-American boys in their hometown of Winter Haven, Fla., where the baseball team held their spring training.
Lee highlights the story of Leeronnie Ogletree, who was molested by Fitzpatrick at age 10. Ogletree vividly recounts to a number of publications the sexual acts in which Fitzpatrick made him participate.
It took decades for the truth to come out about Fitzpatrick, who is white, and his criminal desire for young black boys. In 2003 the Boston Red Sox settled a $3.15 million federal lawsuit brought against them by Ogletree and seven other men from Winter Haven who said Fitzpatrick repeatedly molested them as boys.
Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who handled Ogletree’s case against Fitzpatrick and the Boston Red Sox, said the similarities between the Penn State and Red Sox scandals are startlingly similar. There were cover-ups, denials and the enabling of pedophiles to use the power of their institutions to prey on the weak, in the Red Sox case, “poor black boys,” he said. The kinds of youth often considered society’s “throwaways.”
Fitzpatrick also pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual battery on a child back in 2002.
Kudos to Lee for reminding the public that this sort of crime happens more often than we would like to imagine. Some men prey on boys of all sports. Have we already forgotten that boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard was molested by a trainer during his Olympic days?
The silence about molestation in sports is deafening because in sports culture, everything is privileged — the school’s reputation, the obsession with maintaining a winning coaching staff — except the safety of the child. These children were vulnerable for a number of reasons, and yet those who knew chose to look the other way. That is probably one of the most sickening and pitiful aspects of these sports scandals.
Read more at HuffPost Black Voices.