As signatures in online petitions grow in support of two young Burton High School graduates who came forward about sexual harassment accusations against the Raider head football coach, the executive director of Family Crisis Support Services is on the record about what she saw in videos from Monday's Norton School Board meeting.
"As an agency, we support and advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault. The behavior that was allowed to occur when these two girls opened up about their story is heinous to us," Marybeth Adkins said.
"The mishandling of the situation and the libel against the two girls that ensued is a clear example of breaking the core principle of a trauma-informed care system. The girls were re-victimized and it was allowed to happen. We should be ashamed."
Adkins said she felt "compelled to make a statement after fielding a day of phone calls and concerns" regarding the meeting.
While she was not present, Adkins said she has watched videos of what occurred, fielded subsequent phone calls, and spoken to many in the community.
"I am saddened by how the situation was handled and distressed as I watch a community be divided and ripped apart,” she said. "What do the two girls have to gain by coming forward — reopening of traumatic experiences, public shame, ostracization? Last night's response was the manifestation of why sexual harassment is one of the most unreported crimes against women."
When the two girls spoke, members Sherry Adams and Mark Leonard each posed questions about whether they had testified in previous investigation or had talked to any school officials about coming to speak that night.
Adkins said her post was one avenue for contact information for all who are victims of sexual assault. Family Crisis operates a 24-hour crisis line, information, advocacy, referral, and support groups.
"Please reach out to us," she said. "We are here to support you."