Explanation for Pictures Emerges
Over the past couple of days, an explanation for the damaging pictures that have been circulating around the Internet has emerged. The pictures I am concerned about are the ones showing a girl in handcuffs and the photographic proof that Infante was at the camp, despite a lifetime ban by USA Gymnastics. It bothers me greatly that not only it is a fact that Infante was there and participated in activities, but that he was allowed to touch girls and in one picture appeared to be about to spank a young girl. Given that the USA Gymnastics ban was based on credible evidence, it is unforgivable that the organizers of the camp would allow Infante to participate in any capacity. It is also inexcusable that USA Gymnastics did not report what they learned to the police nearly a decade ago.
The handcuff pictures show DiTullio, and apparently an off duty police officer who was dating one of the coaches, applying handcuffs to a 12-13 year old girl to her wrists and ankles and then coupling them together to hogtie her. The explanation for this, that I have heard verbally from some who were involved, is that everyone in the room consented to it and there was a desire to feel what it would be like to be handcuffed and to try to get out of an awkward situation. Some of these people are saying I took the pictures out of context and I am doing harm by writing about this. While there may have been no harm intended and while the girl involved-and others who witnessed it-may not have felt it was harmful, it does not make what was done right. Ever. The context does not matter.
I will leave it to others to determine whether what happened was a crime. Consider this was a gymnastics camp where kids as young as 8 years old attended. It was not a camp to learn about magic or Houdini. I highly doubt that parents who allowed their kids to go to the camp knew that something like that was going to happen. And the fact that my 8 year old was encouraged to attend this very camp makes me wonder what effect this would have on younger kids. Even if the younger kids were not in the room, what happened could have found its way back to them. There is no excuse for this deplorable and disgusting behavior by adults. Ignorance is certainly not an excuse that anyone should accept.
As I said in a previous post, often our first instinct is to rationalize experiences even if they are wrong. If you can rationalize what happened, then so be it. But I believe doing so makes our kids drastically less safe. Apparently the authorities did not rationalize it in the same way that some parents have nor have prominent psychiatrists I have talked to about this.
In a separate incident, it has been widely reported that this fall DiTullio taped four gymnasts' mouths closed with tape going under their chin and over their heads. There was a mixed reaction from parents and not an apology by DiTullio or any admission of wrongdoing. Apparently the girls involved, including one as young as 9, were not upset over the incident. And, so, apparently that makes it okay? Again, this goes to my point about kids-and apparently adults-rationalizing their experiences. From these two examples, the taping and handcuffs, it appears a pattern is emerging of abuse of power, at the minimum, that is troubling to say the least.