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The Suburbanite
  • Justice system can’t work with only whispers, rumors

  • The issue: Scott Studer case

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  • The issue: Scott Studer case
     
    An understandable concern has permeated the Jackson Local community since a former coach was found to have been secretly videotaping students as they showered: Did Scott D. Studer commit even more serious acts than the crimes detailed in the eight charges he now faces?
    Last week, an allegation of something worse did surface. The Repository reported that an anonymous email to school district officials in January 2011 alleged that Studer had fondled a freshman basketball player 15 years earlier during a sleepover at Studer’s home.
    The records that The Rep asked for showed that, to their credit, school officials contacted police right away, and police tried to get in touch with the emailer within a day. No response. School officials also questioned Studer, who denied the allegation.
    Jackson parents should feel reassured by the serious, immediate attention that school officials and Jackson police gave the anonymous claim. They did exactly what they should have done, when they should have done it, just as state law requires them to do. But they hit a dead end. It would take a U.S. Postal Service investigation this year to uncover years of videotapes of nude Jackson student athletes that Studer has admitted he made by hiding a camera in a boys locker room.
    Despite the dead end, rumors still swirl through Jackson to the effect that “everybody knew” that there was more going on. It’s easy to say that in hindsight without offering any specifics, and specifics count.
    Whispers and rumors aren’t evidence. Anonymous emails that can’t be followed up aren’t evidence. The cliché that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, while often accurate, isn’t evidence.
    Once the situation with the videotapes became public knowledge, more allegations trickled in. A second anonymous email, sent the day Studer was arrested, claimed he had been a problem for years. A third email a week later said that a 1981 Jackson graduate and his parents had long suspected Studer of inappropriate activities.
    These emails are not evidence, either. School officials urged those who sent them to contact police.
    We understand the reluctance to step forward, to become involved in such an ugly business. But if knowledge of more wrongdoing does exist somewhere, police need to know. The justice system can’t work properly without it.