Part 2: Palouse River Rollers

This is another submission we received about Palouse River Rollers. We received copies of text message conversations between one of the abusers and one of the survivors that corroborate some of the allegations described below.

This is the story of what happened to me and another skater at Palouse River Rollers. That skater gave me permission to share these details. [Ed note, this was confirmed by IHID.] This was written by my partner and shared on Facebook:

Whatever happens to me as a result of posting this status, so be it, but I am tired of standing by while I wait for others to care enough to say something with me. I was a part of a derby league called the Palouse River Rollers. I know for a fact TWO women on the team have come forward to tell leadership that they have been taken advantage of by men in or associated with the league.

One woman was a bouter who, the second the coach got her alone, propositioned her for a threesome after she consciously made sure he had never tried to give him any reason to think she was interested in him. In fact, she had had conversations with others to make sure he was a “safe” male. This is the same male who told me we should just accept Louis C.K’s bare minimum apology after it was found he was exposing himself to women.

This is the same man, in his 30s, who announced his relationship with an 18 year old on her birthday, a senior in high school. She is also a member of the league. This is the same man who was told explicitly and specifically by the woman’s best friend at the time to NOT approach or solicit her in any sexual manner because she did not think her friend would receive that well in any context. I know this woman personally. She reported her story to the President of the league. The President brought the issue to the Conflict Resolution Committee, a committee which is made up of one person. Despite both of their appalled reactions to this person’s statements, they chose to use her requests for confidentiality (meaning please handle this sensitively and in a way that keeps me safe) to silence her and keep the issue a secret.

This man was suspended for 60 days, but the reasons were totally unknown to the rest of the league (a league of primarily women or those who are non-binary). When the 60 days was up, it was decided he would return. Effectively, as if nothing had even happened. Mind you, this team claims to have a zero tolerance policy. She then wrote a public declaration explaining everything that had happened to her. A league meeting was called (at which, it had apparently been discussed prior, she was not allowed to attend if she tried-which she knew better by that point). Except that, during the league meeting, the zero tolerance policy was described by leadership as if they had no idea how to implement such a policy and they had genuinely “tried their best.” They said this in spite of the fact that they took two weeks to return an email where she (the accuser) voiced her concerns as to the handling of the situation, only to tell this member that this coach would be returning and the decision had already been made. This is after this man nonchalantly admitted he had made a mental list of the bisexual member of the league.

Remember, this is our male coach… the one watching us practice for hours on end in leggings while we touch other females. You may see now why she felt a public declaration needed to made. At this meeting, I saw pity being sought by leadership who had clearly made terrible decisions. Yet, not one of the loudest voices in that room that day crying because they “had fucked up” or had so much wisdom to impart upon this member called her or continued to reach out to her after she had left the league, which I now view essentially as a cult. #bleedteal #wearePRR #drinkthetealaid.

Instead, they waited until everything blew over after effectively pushing this person out and ostracizing them socially. PRR Care? Is that what you call looking at this person in disgust while waiting in line at the post office? Is that what you call inviting and escorting this man into the gym IMMEDIATELY after her first bout with her new team after YOU invited her to YOUR house to talk about how this person had always pushed boundaries and refused to take no for an answer. The same man who comes over to a domestically abused woman’s house after she experiences a traumatic breakup, propositions her for a date, then sits on her stoop for hours after she says no to “keep her safe” when she told him to leave. The same man who tried to coach opposing teams when she would bout, knowing she was going to be there.

These are the same people who later, after hiring a so called expert who also grossly mishandled her investigation, did not believe a league member who came forward with an accusation of rape by a referee. I have recently heard stories of both sides. I have heard that this member had enough evidence to build a criminal case. The person accused is my friend. I do not believe him to be an inherently bad person. Unfortunately, I do believe he too waited to get this member inebriated and alone in order to have sex with her, which he did without a condom. There were unsolicited nudes involved, written denial of consent to wanting to have sex or any type of romantic relationship.

This woman had just broken up with the love of her life and was experimenting with marijuana for the first time with this male, whom she thought she was and had expressed only wanting to be friends with. Also this woman is a lawyer who works with sexual assault victims frequently. No one even contacted her from any non-profit or legal group though the league said they had consulted an expert. They never even asked to see the texts proving and corroborating the allegation.

Later, her best friend admitted what happened was rape but that it wasn’t as bad as what she had experienced in her teenage years and that the male “felt bad enough.” The league told her they wouldn’t pursue it if SHE didn’t pursue a criminal case. I’ll let that speak for itself after having already described how much work this woman went into trying to tell her story and be believed by her friends and leaguemates.

Both of these women are shy and passive people. This is not a judgement, but an interesting coincidence don’t you think? Both of these women had made attempts to make their lack of interest known. The latter described even says she explicitly told him no, but when she was inebriated around him, he didn’t seem to remember that. She had explicitly told him no several times prior to this incident. I have witnessed him hit on my girlfriend when drunk, leaning in closely to her face while putting his hand on the very edge of her butt. He has even done these things to me. Whether he remembers or not may be a different story.

When she reported her rape to the league, they suggested mediation between the two. Mediation between the two. Mediation between close friends, a new league member, and her rapist (who is included in the close friend circle). This either implies they didn’t believe her outright, they didn’t think it was that bad, or they thought she had some responsibility in trying to make the situation right after her victimization. Maybe a combination of all three. Either way… another gross mishandling which proves they learned nothing. I mean, and that’s the thing right, you couldn’t see fit to handle a sexual harassment allegation correctly and appropriately so how did you expect yourselves to handle a rape allegation? This woman now has a clinical diagnosis of PTSD and has moved to a different state and severed a friendship with her best friend over this rape. But, yeah, I’m sure she made it up right? This man is still a referee.

Have we not realized by now that sexual coercion, sexual assault, and rape typically do not entail strangers and copious amounts of forced violence? How do we get to the truth if we can’t even have a real, non-judgmental conversation with the victim? It is always harder to do the right thing. It is always harder to do the work. Actions will always speak louder than words.

I had to post this because I am sick of seeing the words “good team” “great team” in regards to this team because I was always taught that you have your teammates’ back no matter what. To bring forth sexual harassment allegations against two long-term male members of a league is a terrifying thing, but they had the integrity and courage to tell their community the truth about what these men had done; how their actions also betrayed the other members of the league. Instead of executing their so called zero tolerance policy, PRR chose to bully the victims and any allies into leaving the league while wholly protecting and reinstating both male members.

Just thought anyone on that team or deciding to be on that team should know this going forward. The members of the league during the handling of these issues were outright lied to and manipulated as to the facts under the guise of “confidentiality.” Meanwhile, both of these women have yet to feel validated or protected by PRR whatsoever. I have so many more details related to this case, but I am sure I will be lucky if anyone has read thus far.

I had to say something for the victims and for future victims and for my own sanity because I cannot stand to see the same people continuously be SO hypocritical about what [went] on with the Kavanaugh nomination. More importantly, this is a league people pay money to be a part of and to which they give their bodies and time. But you know I guess the lesson here is if you make one mistake, have any flaw, don’t have power, aren’t popular, aren’t the best athlete…. your reality and your sexual assault has less validity.

Further, to those still skating with PRR: How can you allow leadership to have betrayed you like this and act like nothing has happened? It makes me fear if I could even trust the friendships I have formed from this team and any of the countless times we spent together. How quickly we were thrown away by that team as a whole… I don’t think I ever had so many people break my heart at the same time. This entire situation is one of the biggest factors in Shred and I moving back home [out of state] in order to feel safer and more protected by our families.

If you feel so inclined as to join me in sharing this truth because you believed it before or perhaps you believe it now, then feel free to share this story with me. How can we expect change if we never discuss the truth?


1 comment

  • This case really highlights how if an area is strapped enough for officials anyone can’t get away with anything. But also seems to point to how to really garner community support you need to be derby famous. And to really garner community ire, you probably have to be a POC. Otherwise it all just seems to stay status quo.

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