In the wake of child molestation allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a similar story has emerged from the past as a testament to the pain that persists when adults prey on children. In both instances, Black boys were at the center of the narrative.
Nine years ago, former Boston Red Sox clubhouse manager Donald Fitzpatrick, was found guilty of molesting African-American boys over a period of decades, according to an article by Jeff Passan posted on the Yahoo! Sports website, ThePostGame.
Fitzpatrick’s behavior was apparently common knowledge among team members, and in one instance, players even warned the boys to stay away from the clubhouse manager. In 1971, when one of the victims reported Fitzpatrick to the team’s management, the Sox fired the boy and allowed Fitzpatrick to keep his position without taking any disciplinary action or contacting authorities.
In total, it is alleged that Fitzpatrick molested nearly a dozen African-American boys over the years and the managed to keep the secret hidden for decades.
One of Fitzpatrick’s victims, Leeronnie Ogletree, says that the events of his childhood have left an indelible mark on his psyche as an adult.
"I thought one time I wouldn't be able to deal with older white people," Ogletree, now 48, told ThePostGame. "If I see somebody who resembles him, a rage comes through me. I just have to leave the scene. That's something that can happen even right now."
Ogletree says that as a gate-keeper to the players and game he loved so much, Fitzpatrick was able to manipulate the young men into doing whatever he wished.
"If you're a kid, you fall in love with the game of baseball," Ogletree said. "There's one in a million chance of meeting a professional ballplayer, let alone working with them. If kids like something, and if you say you're going to take that away, they'll do anything to keep what's good to them. I know what happened to me at 10 years old."
The story of Fitzpatrick’s systematic abuse of the boys remained a secret until 1991, when one of his accusers attended a televised Sox-Angels game and held up a sign that said, “Don Fitzgerald sexually abused me” while sitting in the crowd. Following the incident, victims began coming forward, resulting Fitzpatrick’s 2002 conviction on four counts of sexual battery on a child after pleading guilty to the charges. The Red Sox also settled a $3.15 million lawsuit with seven victims in 2003.
Although the cases have all been settled, many are asking questions about the treatment of Black boys in light of both the Fitzpatrick scandal and now, the allegations against Sandusky.
"These kids came from impoverished backgrounds and many times, no father. Fitzpatrick used that to his advantage and preyed on these kids that were poor," Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who handled Ogletree’s case against Fitzpatrick and the Boston Red Sox told the Huffington Post. "The one thing that I do think is not similar to the Penn State situation is that with the Boston Red Sox case, they had 11 kids and they were all black, almost as if they wouldn't let this happen to little white boys."
Sandusky, 67, has been indicted on 40 counts of molestation stemming from allegations of abuse from eight boys over a 15-year span with some of the alleged sexual abuse taking place at the school’s football facilities. In addition, the New York Times reports that nearly 10 more boys are ready to come forward with claims of sexual abuse against Sandusky.