While at Oregon State, Mike Riley invited Brenda Tracy, a rape victim of his former players to speak to his current team. Riley switched jobs between the invitation and its acceptance, but the offer stood. That meeting, 18 years in the making, awaits Wednesday.
As we wrote previously, and she explains below, Mike Riley’s reaction to the alleged gang rape was almost as difficult as the act itself.
We posted a portion of the letter below, originally printed by The Oregonian, to remind how coaches take an active role in these tragic cases no matter what action or inaction they take.
In a few days I will board a plane to Lincoln, Nebraska. As the day draws near I find myself becoming more anxious and emotional. It’s difficult to articulate everything I’m feeling. It used to be easy.
Hate. Anger. Resentment. Disgust.
Those were the feelings that filled my heart and my mind when I heard the name coach Mike Riley or when I had the unfortunate circumstance of thinking about him or that fateful night in Corvallis when my life was forever changed by his players.
June 1998 I was drugged and gang-raped by four men. Two of them played football at Oregon State. The attack lasted more than six hours and as I went in and out of consciousness the things that they did to me are now burned into my memory. Like a piece of cattle I was branded, never to forget eight hands on me, inside me, their laughs as they high-fived each other in a congratulatory manner as they each took turns raping me.
Never to forget the next morning when I awoke to the smell of dried vomit in my hair, the stickiness of a condom stuck to my stomach, the food crumbs that left indentations on my skin as I lay face down on the apartment floor like a piece of garbage that someone forgot to pick up.
But the branding didn’t stop there. Two weeks after reporting the attack and enduring a severe backlash and death threats from a community that should have helped me and protected me — I dropped the charges. And one day as I opened a newspaper I saw it. When asked about his players receiving a one game suspension for my rape coach Riley said, “These are really good guys who made a bad choice.”
Again, the branding iron was hot and it seared through my flesh to my soul. A fifth mark. A fifth scar that I would carry forever.
How could coach Riley say that? Good guys? A bad choice? I couldn’t understand. What was a bad choice? Was it a bad choice when his player was raping me or when that player was watching three other men rape me?
A bad choice… a bad choice is staying up late when you have to be up early. A bad choice is drinking underage. A bad choice is speeding on the freeway and getting a ticket.
Gang-rape is NOT a bad choice.
And so now I will board a plane to Lincoln, Neb. where coach Riley is the head football coach. For the first time ever I will stand face to face with him and I will show him my scars and I will show his team my scars and I will tell them the story of the night, “gang rape became a bad choice”