Monday, September 19, 2005
Honesty Hits a New Low: The Strange Revelations of Laveranues Coles
In an Associated Press story today, New York Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles revealed that he was sexually abused from the ages of 10-13. That's too bad. It's an awful thing that no one should ever have to go through. Sexual abuse has far-ranging emotional consequences for all concerned, and the immediate intervention of mental health professionals is called for once the abuse is recognized.
But what I'm trying to figure out is....why is Laveranues Coles making his childhood troubles public?
The perp in question is Coles' ex-stepfather, now divorced from the football player's mother. The AP story goes on to say that "Coles' mother, Sirretta, divorced her husband when the abuse was first revealed and sought counseling for the youngster. Coles realizes that coming out with this now publicly will reopen old wounds for the family." Mrs. Coles' ex-husband, "whose name the receiver didn't want to reveal, was sentenced to nine years in a Florida prison in 1992 after pleading guilty to the infractions. He served 3 1/2 years, but was later convicted of another crime and has been in prison since 2001."
Well, if this happened years ago, and Coles, 27, received counseling, and his mother divorced the pathetic guy (who is now in jail), then, again I ask you, WHY is Coles going public? There are more than 1,500 players on NFL rosters. I'm sure many of them have some sad life stories, or unbelievable challenges they've had to overcome. Welcome to the fraternity of man. That doesn't mean we have to call a press conference. "Reopen old wounds," Laveranues? Yeah-duhhhhhhhh!
There's no dearth of sympathy for someone like Coles. If he is continuing to have emotional problems stemming from his unfortunate experiences, then he is urged to seek (or continue to seek) help. If he feels an intra-family intervention is needed, then I am sure that his therapist will be happy to arrange one. No doubt there are support groups available for him, and if he wants to go the extra mile in this situation, he could probably make a nice donation to pertinent organizations that can help him and others like him who have suffered psychic pain and confusion. Here's the advice we all drew from the film Good Will Hunting: "It's not your fault."
Perhaps if this were a newly recognized event in Coles' life, with his distressed emotional state affecting his work and causing him to take a hiatus from the NFL, then the announcement might make some sense. Otherwise, to me, it just looks like another case of sports egomania run wild.
Again, I can't stress enough how serious the issue of sexual abuse is. There isn't a right-thinking person in the world who wouldn't hope and pray for Coles' coming to terms and coming to grips with his past. Whatever effects the abuse had on him, it hasn't prevented him from achieving a lot as a pro athlete. He has that to build on, and he has access to first-rate care.
So please, Laveranues, get the help you need. Turn inward to your family, and responsibly deal with these issues with professional assistance. Have courage to face the truth, and we have no doubt you'll come out stronger on the other end.
But in the future: Don't call a press conference. It's tacky, self-centered and wholly unnecessary.
Just think, Coles could've spent that time volunteering at a home for youngsters with emotional difficulties. Instead, he's talking to the press about something that happened more than 15 years ago, and for which his mother arranged counseling at the time. Plus, the criminal element in question--a former relative, no less--is behind bars.
Sorry. I just don't get it.