Apr. 14—I'm not alone in pleading ignorance to the legal process and courthouse culture, mostly living unaware of how things really work and perhaps too immersed in the idealism of how they should.
So can somebody out there educate me and the rest of us cattle on how one of the most egregious violations of the law in our region's history resulted in a disproportionately modest prison sentence of seven years?
Straight up: Seven years in prison for Corriche Gaskin, the 37-year-old former New London middle school employee who sexually assaulted two underage girls and betrayed the trust of the school community, is simply not acceptable.
It goes beyond shocking the conscience. It is reprehensible — and insulting — that the worst kind of atrocity against two middle school kids gets siloed into just another sexual abuse case. It's not. It remains a scourge on the school system that echoes through current events and still inflicts scars on the victims that may require a lifetime of therapy.
I want everyone to think about the events of this case: An adult who worked with the most vulnerable middle school kids as the climate (behavioral) specialist sexually assaulted two girls who were from 14 to 15 years old. In one case, police said Gaskin sexually assaulted an eighth-grader in his middle school office after exposing himself to her. He used a cell phone to record the assault, police alleged. Another victim alleged he assaulted her in a storage closet at the middle school.
Seven years. It's an outrage.
But then, no more of an outrage that others involved in this case who also escaped harsher penalties. Example: Have administrators working at the school ever answered why some security cameras were disabled or why Gaskin was allowed to cover the windows of his office door with newspaper so nobody else could see inside?
I'm not really interested in whether you call them sins of omission or commission. They are still sins. They are sins perpetrated against the voiceless. And I believe the public has the right — and the need — to know how they were ever allowed to happen from the very people assigned to protect children.
I can't necessarily argue with Assistant State's Attorney Theresa Ferryman, who said the bulk of the sexual assault cases in the district never make it to trial to protect the victims' privacy and from publicly testifying about a traumatic experience. I'm just not buying that it applied to this case.
How do I know that? I happened to be out socially one night a few months ago and unwittingly met the mother of one of the victims. I will keep the content of our conversation private. But between her and other sources close to this case, I believe that at least one victim was willing to testify.
And I'd like to know why the victim wasn't given the chance.
The victims are now young women and should have the choice to testify and the power to steer the fate of the man who directed theirs.
I've known Gaskin since he was in high school playing basketball at New London High and later as a coach in the region. I've always liked him. None of this is easy to write.
But if you are a person of conscience, you must ask for more earnest answers about the legal process and not some canned, "this is just how it works" sound bite. You must pursue whether a victim was willing to testify. You must ask why the school hierarchy at the time allowed a culture that didn't merely allow the sexual assault of kids, but allowed the same perpetrator to feel bulletproof enough to have sex with at least two adult school employees on multiple occasions — and recorded some of them with a cell phone.
The acts are appalling enough. But the punishment, or lack thereof, speaks to a system that has forgotten who it's supposed to be fighting for. And demands all of us to start asking more and better questions.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro