Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 16, 1998

By Harold Keller / L’Observateur / April 16, 1998


Last week, nine St. Charles Parish teen-age boys were arrested andcharged with gang-raping a 15-year-old girl. One of the teen-agers wasreportedly a boyfriend of the girl. The report said the boyfriend told thegirl that if she loved him, to prove it by having sex with his friends. Soundcrazy? The story shocked most of the people in the area. This is something youread about happening in other places, not in the River Parishes. Most ofthose arrested were Destrehan High School students, and a few were members of the Wildcat football team.

Since the news broke about the crime I’ve heard many theories about what people think happened.

Some said it was evidently consensual sex, no big deal. In other words, sowhat, sex happens! (People seem to forget that, according to state law, consensual sex with a person under age 17 is a crime.)Others condemned the girl’s parents for not monitoring her activities closer. And many people called the actions of the boys accusedanimalistic.

The rape, if it did occur as reported, is enough to get most people sick. Tothink that our society has regressed to such activity among our teen- agers. The sickest part of the reported crime is that a few of thosearrested are accused of videotaping the act and distributing it at school.

There is a saying in the advertising and entertainment industry that sex sells. It seems the more perverted, the bigger the demand.According to news accounts, one mother’s concern about the delay in the grand jury investigation is that she is worried the boys will miss too much school. Another mother of one of the football players was quoted assaying, “I’m worried that my son’s arrest could ruin his dream of landing a football scholarship and playing professional football.” I’d like to tell herthat if her son is good enough, most schools will overlook the alleged crime and give him a scholarship. Not only that, the majority of peoplewho now detest that type of behavior will pay admission and cheer him on if he can perform on the football field.

And after college, the pros will take anybody. Just look at two of thebiggest prized free agents the Saints recently signed. Lamar Smith had tohave a furlough from jail to sign his multi-million dollar contract.

The other, Andre Royal, early the same morning of the day he signed a million-dollar-plus contract, was, in his words, celebrating in clean fun.

The fun he was referring to led to charges of simple battery, public drunkenness, groping a dancer in a local bar, and refusing to pay her $200 for private dances in the V.I.P. section of the bar.This wasn’t the first time Royal had been in trouble. In college, whileattending the University of Alabama, he was disciplined in 1991 for a fight on campus. In 1993, he was arrested and charged with credit cardfraud and was suspended from the Southeastern Conference championship game, the Gator Bowl, and Alabama’s spring training in 1994. He also wasdemoted in 1994 from the starting lineup for one game after another fight on campus.

Our young people today, just like in the past, love to imitate grownups, especially their role models. They imitate them on and off the field.The rule in government is that we get the kind of government we deserve.

The same holds true in society. The actions of those accused in the rapeare a reflection of our society. We are just reaping the benefits of whatwe sowed. We’ve allowed sex to be piped into our living rooms at primetime. We’ve allowed the music industry to promote anything over theairwaves.

The sad ending to this story, regardless of what the outcome will be, is an indictment on our morals in a so-called Christian nation. We’ve come along way – a long way down.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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