I honestly don’t know or remember much about the other man that I was convinced was abused by The Coach. I knew that he was from a prominent family in Artesia who ran in the same circles as the head coach and many other families who were considered golden legacies producing some of the town’s biggest football stars. His dad was a large football booster and this man was a decent football player at best during his time under the lights of the Bullbog Bowl. I have also heard that after I came out in the summer of 2003 he drove up and down Main Street telling anyone who listened about my coming out. I can pretty much guarantee his intentions weren’t supportive ones.
I had always wondered about this man as his relationship with The Coach.
So, I was quite surprised to see a Facebook message appear on my screen telling this man would like to send me a message. Here is what he wrote to me:
Hey Jake!! I love seeing you being happy and your beautiful family! I wasn't sure how to get ahold of you and/or if you even care but (The Coach) was a bad person to me for over 3 years in Artesia. I don't know if he was good to you or bad to you but he’s being investigated by the FBI. A student recently killed himself because of the actions of (The Coach). Anyways they are heavily investigating him all the way back to his years in Artesia and didn’t know if you might have any info. They are taking anonymous statements. Hope you continue living life with that great smile! So happy for you.
Now, the PED was investigating The Coach, not the FBI. Also, the student who killed himself was a much more complicated story than he knew. But, it shocked me that he had reached out. I wasn’t expecting to hear from him at all, but here we were.
My first thought after hearing that he reported was “we got the fucker”. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but this man’s statement made my case so much stronger. I couldn’t possibly imagine how The Coach could escape these developments.
I received sporadic messages from this man over the next few weeks, mostly sharing his anger and his desire for justice. He told me that he told his family and that they wanted to sue The Coach, Artesia, and anyone who might have known and did nothing. I felt his pain and anger. I have been on my journey for 10 months and this man was just at the start of his journey. I was surrounded by people who support me. I have a patient and supporting husband and parents who are determined to show up for me in this difficult time. I don’t know this man’s family, but I can assume, based off their very public religious and political beliefs, that this man doesn’t have the space I have to heal. I am hoping there is space created for him to cope and heal.
I believe that everyone has their own path to healing and I am sensing that this man and his family need to work through their anger towards the situation by suing and punishing everyone involved. My hope is that eventually they can heal through compassion, empathy, and love. I hope they can create a space for this man to feel supported in path to healing.
Interacting with this man helped me define my own path. I have no desire to sue or be compensated in any way. I find peace in helping to create space for others to speak their truth. I know there are other victims out there and I want to create a space where they can tell their story. I want to give a voice to every child The Coach took advantage of during his time as a trusted educator and mentor. They deserve to heard. I deserve to be heard and when this man is ready he deserves to be heard too.
I felt many emotions after receiving the initial message from this man. It has been hard to absorb his pain knowing exactly how he feels and how much hurt is inside of him. But he has his journey to follow and hopefully a new future filled with the security, happiness, and calm that comes with accepting and overcoming sexual abuse.
I am working to feel pride in the fact that I created the space for this man to report. I gathered every ounce of courage I possess and I reported The Coach, giving this man and hopefully many other a path to report. I did that.