"See It, Stop It: Tackling Abuse in Amateur Sports" Symposium
On June 16-17, 2021 we hosted our first-ever virtual symposium: See It, Stop It: Tackling Abuse in Amateur Sports. After conducting dozens of virtual and in-person events to raise awareness around abuse in sport, we have identified some key components in addressing this issue: basic prevention best practices, institutional accountability, positive team and coaching culture, and access to resources. With our “See It, Stop It” symposium, we faced these issues head on thanks to the incredible wisdom and experience of our featured speakers.
"Institutional Accountability: The Power of One Voice"
Watch the entire, captioned recording of “Institutional Accountability: The Power of One Voice.”
– And welcome back to day two of “See It Stop It: Tackling Abuse in Amateur Sports” presented by The Foundation for Global Sports Development and Sidewinder films. This symposium is designed to empower coaches parents, athletes, and administrators in recognizing and preventing abuse in sport. Sport should be a place where athletes feel safe and supported. The Foundation for Global Sports Development is committed to ensuring this happens. To end abuse in sport we must completely shift our culture to make athlete safety and well-being our top priority. If you weren’t able to attend yesterday’s session around abuse prevention and healthy, positive coaching the recordings will be available for viewing on their website at globalsportsdevelopment.org. Today’s panel, “Institutional Accountability: The Power of One Voice” speaks to how institutions such as universities and organizations play a critical role in keeping athletes safe. We will explore strategies for supporting survivors, creating protection policies, and learning how to be institutional change makers at an individual level. So there’s a place where we’ll give some information and hopefully get some feedback from you and maybe you’ll even join us as partners for change. This discussion obviously can be somewhat triggering. So we encourage you to practice self care. Feel free to call anonymously or text the Childhelp hotline. It’s 1-800-422-4453. You can get immediate help and speak to a professional crisis counselor. They’re also there just to answer questions. So even if you’re not in crisis and you’re just feeling a little bit uncomfortable or want some more resources, they’re there for you. Please join our resources session directly following the discussion at 12:15 Pacific to learn more about national and local resources, training certification, and how to get answers to some pressing questions. And if you have any questions for our panelists please enter them using the Q&A feature at the bottom of your screen. I am Daphne Young, Chief Communications Officer at Childhelp. This is my 11th anniversary at this wonderful organization and eighth year working with GSD on projects that have directly impacted over 160,000 children, coaches, parents youth in sports members of the community and even politicians working in the field through a program called Childhelp Speak Up, Be Safe for Athletes, underwritten by The Foundation for Global Sports Development. Today our esteemed panelists are Jonathan Vaughn. Great to see you again, Jonathan.
– Good to see you.
– That’s an award winning and a former Michigan football player an abuse survivor who went on play in the NFL and NFL Europe. He’s now an entrepreneur, father, activist, and he’s committed to ending sexual abuse by educating others and supporting statute of limitations reform in Michigan and other legislation aimed at safeguarding youth. This is a guy I saw just recently on ESPN, on a mic calling out the Board of Regents and the University of Michigan. He said, “Say my name. Because the time is now for all of you who have been abused here to speak up for justice. We speak because every victim matters. I am not John Doe. I am Jon Vaughn.” And I just want to tell you, Jon, that when our brother survivors come forward, it legitimizes and gives voice to every woman that’s been abused. And some of the children that are still in the shadows of abuse, it matters deeply. And so we thank you for that.
– Thank you for having me.
– Thank you.
– Professor Guiora. Amos Guiora is a professor of law at SJ Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. His research contributed to legislation ratified by the Utah legislature and signed into law on March 23rd, 2021. So these guys are both a recent happening and on the cutting edge of this work the law criminalizing bystanders who do not intervene on behalf of children and vulnerable adults he will be testifying before the Victoria and Australia legislative council regarding the crime of omission. And I just found a quote from the opening of his abstract: “Sex abuse particularly of children is a crime which any rational person would wish to prevent. However, when an individual’s loyalties and responsibilities to an institution put them at odds with preventing sex abuse, it’s far too often the institution, which takes precedence.” And that’s going to be a big piece of our discussion today. Professor Guiora has published extensively in the United States and Europe on issues related to the bystander effect, limits of interrogation, complicity, the limits of power multiculturalism, and human rights. Before releasing “Armies of Enablers” He wrote “The Crime of Complicity: Law and the Bystander in the Holocaust.” I want to thank you both for joining us.
– Thank you. Thank you for having me and for us.
– All right. Guys, I’m just going to dig right into what I think will be a meaty discussion. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you both before, but for those unaware of your work, even though it’s out there, everywhere and social media and traditional media, begin with just a couple of questions Amos, I’m always really impressed by your passion. You have been a determined advocate for survivors, and I’m wondering oftentimes — I worked in academia and a lot of it is academic work in the sidelines and it’s very quiet and it’s very studious and it adds to the canon, but it doesn’t get out there with a punch. And you’ve been out there as an activist. What led you to become one?
– Spending time with surv– First of all, thank you for having me. The easy answer is spending time with survivors. And I want to be careful with the language here because I don’t want to make this about me, but there’s a sense of maybe responsibility, obligation when you spend time, obviously, because Vaughn and I have been working together almost a year now. I mean, I don’t know if it’s a hundreds of hours. We have together, or thousands of hours we have together by now. I can’t count, which is why my parents sent me to law school but I’m willing to hazard a guess it’s thousands. But when you spend time with people who have had the unimaginable done to them I also, by now spend time with parents or families of survivors and you feel the terrible pain obviously. And I’m very fortunate, definitely the last time anybody laid a hand on me was in eighth grade when Danny DeWolf slapped me playing floor hockey in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So I in that sense, I’m privileged but I’m also aware that survivors feel the need to talk. And I’m honored that they reach out to me and that they trust me. And if that leads to the sense of urgency, advocacy, passion then it is what it is. And I will just add one more thing. I think you know this — the American Bar Association did a profile on me and they said like, what gets you going? Like, how do you want to be remembered? And I said, pardon my English, right? But I said, I’m like pissed. I mean, I really am, but it’s not about the assault. It’s not the perpetrator that angers me. It’s the enabler, bystander and the institutional complicity that if I had a hair to pull out, I probably would pull out, I don’t, but that it’s the enablers the bystanders that really – in plain English, Cause we have to be polite – really anger me and fuel my fire, which is as Jon knows I start my day 3:30-4 in the morning and I go to sleep 11-12 And again, I’ve never been touched, but I’m pissed on the behalf of the survivors, not about the perp but about the bystanders and enablers.
– Well, using privilege to passionately advocate for others is, has been a real shift in our paradigm in the last couple of years. I mean, for a long time people are just like, whoops not me, moving on. And when “Me Too” came along, suddenly it was like you’re either going to be an ally or you’re going to be, as you say you’re going to be with the enablers and bystanders because you really can’t not have a dog in this fight. You either have to step up for people that are being hurt, because it is someone you know; it is someone in your family, or you’re just going to hold back and say, “hey, hands clean 8th grade I’m comfortable.” And your comfort puts other people in harm’s way if you don’t use a little bit of that to step forward. So we honor the work that you do obviously. And Jon being such a compatriot with you and such a collaborator. I mean, here you are in kind of different worlds initially. You’ve got a football star, dad, business leader and Jon, I appreciate you also as a man of strength, a man of faith, your life might’ve been easier to just kind of resting on your laurels. Going public about personal trauma is extremely difficult. You doing so is a testament to that strength and commitment to protecting others. And so obviously on behalf of the folks that are here that are maybe in the chat that can’t thank you verbally. I want to thank you on their behalf. We always have survivors in our midst. Can you briefly share your experience and kind of how you got here and maybe even ending up with your last talk, your first experience coming forward and your last conversation with Amos.
– So, a joke with my best friend and teammate from college, I was like, you started me down this rabbit hole on March 26th, 2020 because I hadn’t really thought about my daily life at the University of Michigan in 30 years. And when I read the email that he sent me that described what was going on, and the coverup, and the atrocities all these memories started flooding back. And so the first thing was I realized that I was a victim. I started reading the response of the institution, Michigan, responses, articles, and media. And I thought, I have to control the narrative because no one knows what I, no one was in there, but me and the perpetrator in the room where the abuse happened. But I also was listening to… It immediately brought me to David and Goliath. It, there were, it was just really weird. So I liken it to, if I told someone that my house got robbed I’m automatically believed, when I told them that I was sexually abused and it was rape at the hands and under the guise of medicine at Michigan no one believed me, no one believed us. And so I felt like we as victims need to go the extra mile in proving like our trauma which is really weird to say, and couple, so in July of last year, I happened to be doing an internet search, just to get some answers. And the next thing you know I come upon a gentleman named Amos Guiora and not knowing where he is in the world. I just know this book was coming out and I’d read about some of the other books. And I emailed him and I was like, my name is Jon Vaughn. I played in Michigan and I’m trying to understand what’s going on. And obviously you have some expertise in deconstructing, so to speak or reverse engineering these atrocities from the enablers and how complicity works within these organizations. And Amos emailed me back. And when we first, I mean, our first talk was on Skype and that’s when I realized that we’re from two different worlds. But the thing that galvanized us is he happened to be a former his father was a professor at the University of Michigan during this time, He had a love for Michigan. We sparred back and forth about Michigan history and stats and games. And I was like, okay, this guy is fine from Israel to go to games like, okay, he’s a fan. But our fandom, we left our fandom and my love for Michigan at the door. And we began a process of what I often say is we reverse engineered actually how a man could be at this university creating these atrocities for over four fifths of my life. We had to look at different areas of organization where he was enabled and how many bystanders just turned the other way That helped develop my voice. That gave me strength. And then I will tell you, I did look at, I think it was in the summer of the ESPYs when the gymnasts received that award. And it kind of put it in perspective that these aren’t isolated cases. And then when you start connecting the dots, especially in the Big 10, where an athletic trainer was at Ohio state and Ohio State’s mired in it, and you start looking at the culture, you’re like, okay this is much bigger than me. I was connected with ESPN. I did my first article and interview after about four months of getting to know the, I mean ’cause the biggest thing trust is about vulnerability. And I was very vulnerable to Justin Tinsley who writes for The Undefeated and with ESPN ’cause I wanted him to understand not only the courage but the pain and the things that we had to get through to be here today. And after that, I think I was, it’s almost a relief because you speak the truth, you get it out, right. And then, after that, I was hearing from individuals from, let’s say the four corners of the earth and they were telling me their stories and they didn’t know me. And so you start to realize that there’s a darkness in sport. And for me outside of music, sport is the purest form of community gatherings. It doesn’t matter white, black, blue, green, Catholic, Muslim, whatever. I’ve seen so many communities that are galvanized because of sport and just a purity of sport. But we have this unpure culture that exists. And I go back to what my mother who has now passed once said to me in my early twenties at some point in time in your life, you’re going to be faced with something that’s bigger than you. And hopefully how I raise you and the things I taught you, you will step up to that challenge. And that’s really why I’m here today. And it’s what fuels me to advocate and to speak my truth.
– I love that. Sometimes it’s just that you don’t realize when you’re telling somebody a little piece of wisdom that may be the little nugget that just sticks in their brain for life. Whether you’re a parent whether you’re a friend and a couple of things strike me about what you’ve been saying. Number one, this idea of being believed we’ll dig into it a little deeper, but I, I’ve heard so many people say, hey if you’re getting attacked, right? I took a training, a self-defense training. If you’re getting raped, make sure to scream fire ’cause people will come running for fire but they’re not going to come help you for rape. And I thought, well, that was a it was a harsh lesson early on. And a few other things that kind of take us out of the norm are that you reached out. It’s fascinating to me because so many survivors just stay in the shadows and the fact that you got information and then started researching almost immediately, like what is this what’s going on? Who are these people? Finding Amos, making the issue bigger than you. A lot of survivors turn inward and kind of crush inward. And that’s not a wrong way to be. That’s not a wrong way to feel, but it’s also exciting. I think for people who are in that stage to see when people go outward when they say I’m going to get information I’m going to research, I’m going to be part of change. And if you’re not ready to speak I’ll be your voice for a little while. Like I’ll carry you up my shoulder for a while. I may need you in the future. Maybe you just as a listening ear or as a friend but I think that’s amazing. And Amos, in your most recent book “Army of Enablers” that we were just talking a little bit before the event, somebody that didn’t even know you were connected to Foundation for Global Sports was talking about this book and our team at Global Sports was like, I know this guy. Which is very cool. And you discussed how abusers don’t act in a vacuum. That abuse is facilitated by enablers and bystanders. And for people that haven’t read the book yet can you give them a little sense of what you mean by bystander and enabler and how they apply to institutions?
– Absolutely. So I define the bystander as the individual who’s physically present when harm occurs to another person and the bystander thereby has both knowledge because they see it and they have capability to act because they have a cell phone. And the only action that is required of them is to dial 911 to alert the authorities as to the danger peril another person is in. That’s distinguished from the enabler who is not present, but knows – has knowledge – or should know of the peril of another and makes the conscious decision, the rational decision from their perspective not to intervene on behalf of the person in peril. For me in the context of what you’re asking the institutional complicity in time after time, after time, whether we’re talking about Jon and his teammates and the other students and student athletes at Michigan, as horrific – horrific the understatement, is as Dr. Anderson was, from my perspective Anderson’s egregious – understatement – crimes are enabled by the enablers and those who knew or should have known it. Anybody who watched Jon and Tad DeLuca and Mr. Goldman yesterday, the press conference in Ann Arbor they laid it out for you, exactly who the enablers were. And those are the people who, from my perspective create the opportunity repeated over 50 years in Anderson’s case for the perpetrator to commit the crime. The title of the book, “Armies of Enablers” actually doesn’t come from me. It comes from Lindsey Lemke, who was the captain of Michigan State’s gymnastics team, who was adamant about the title armies, because she says as a victim she was assaulted by Nassar, who knows how many hundreds of times that wherever she turned to get help there was an enabler, plural protecting Nassar, Yes, but probably more than Nassar protecting Michigan State. And I think we can make the exact same argument with respect to what Jon and the hundreds if not thousands of other men and women went through at Michigan. Anderson was enabled whether it’s the coach, the athletic director or senior university officials who knew, we now know they knew, right. And they, and what they did was, I mean there’s this triangle that for me says, institutional complicity, enabling culture. One plus one ends up in two, which is sexual assault or sexual abuse, rape. It’s A to B to C. And the thing is that a guy like Anderson or Nassar or Strauss at Ohio state or Catholic priests, and I could go on and on and on, they can act with impunity/immunity because they know that the enabler will protect them because the enabler protects the institution and thereby the perp, rather than doing the obvious thing which is to protect Jon Vaughn. And when you really stop and think about it it is again in polite company. It is so outrageous that rather than protecting Vaughn, they protect Michigan. And we know why Michigan is protected because it’s the brand, the brand, the brand that, there’s huge money involved here. Absolutely. But hang on. I was on a call earlier today where somebody in England actually where somebody said, yes, there’s the money but there’s also a power dynamic of power imbalance between coach player, the university, the student. And so this woman who was, she was an athlete herself she said, as important as money is, she said don’t focus only on the money, take into consideration. I think she’s right. The power imbalance. I mean, Jon Vaughn’s a star. Okay, but no disrespect to Jon, if he complains there’s the next man up, who’s going to come in instead of Vaughn and the team will continue winning. And the 110,000 fans will continue coming to the games because that’s just the way these it’s a system. And in the context of that system if complicity enables Anderson for over 50 years to assault I think Jon and I tried to figure out how to create some kind of a model it’s tens of thousands of times at Anderson violated young men and young women in Ann Arbor when he was volunteering to do physical exams in high schools in Ann Arbor, and then at Michigan. And the only way you can do that is by having armies of enablers.
– Yeah, and then let’s get a little more specific on those numbers, our baseline number right now. And it’s growing, it’s 30,000 incidences of sexual abuse and rape by one man.
– And I think that’s an understatement.
– Yeah and I think that’s an understatement. So think about how powerful that enablement and complicit culture is for someone to gorge on teenagers and young men and women for four plus decades.
– Absolutely. And when you described the triangulation of all those relationships, because who’s a big problem in all the careers that will fall all the money that will be lost. All the power structures that are toppled it’s that pesky survivor, right. That person whose voice is going to be a real problem how much can I pay you off? How can we get rid of this one, that one, oh here comes another one. It’s almost until you get a class action lawsuit level of people that are all speaking at the same time that you can even get maybe a headline in a newspaper somewhere in the local sheet on page four. And that’s part of the frustration. Jon, you started to touch on this. I mean, when you think about 30,000 plus and that’s probably a conservative estimate over years I’m sure many people whether whispering or speaking openly, or as you know trying to come forward in power structures can, and they are not believed in so many people who are listening to this today we’ll hear, will, why didn’t they come forward further? And who did, who doesn’t know when they’re being heard? There’s so much, what about as a more questioning that people have? And it’s so important to just believe survivors to just step back, listen to what they’re saying. Could you go into the importance of believing survivors and listening to their voices and why that is a first step a crucial first step for institutional accountability?
– Well, the first thing if you just look at a human psychology no one that I know once the badge or the Scarlet letter of I’m a rape victim, I’m a sexual abuse victim, right? That for, especially for men, but also for women, nobody like we’re not, there’s no win in coming out and saying that like from a public standpoint because once it’s out in the public, everybody, you have all these keyboard bullies, and no one wants that for their life. That’s one and two the only way we get to healing is about trust. There’s been a major trust that’s broken by whatever the institution and the perpetrator that their trust does not exist without vulnerability. And so we’re trying to gain back that trust that we openly gave when we decided to sign our letters of intent or when we invited people into our families and our homes, and specifically I’ll tell a short story. So I was recruited by Les Miles at the University of Michigan. At that time that I was being recruited. My senior year of football, my mother in October had was diagnosed with breast cancer had breast cancer surgery in November. So as Les is coming to my house my mother’s dealing with breast cancer. When I go to my recruiting trip and meet Bo Schembechler the first time in January of 1988, he asked about how my mother’s doing and my recovery. Okay, so let’s set the table there. Two individuals of power knew that my mother had cancer. Fast forward to August of 1988. My first exam with Dr. Anderson, he’s asking me all these questions, we’re going through blood pressure, height, weight, all those things. He starts to now go into the physical part of the exam checking reflexes and things of that nature. And there’s a moment at the end of the exam which I’ve heard hundreds of times now. He says, It’s now time for me to do a testicular cancer screening test. Will you please drop your pants?” Or I don’t even think he said please. “Drop your pants.” So that’s when the first sexual assault happened. And then right after that, he said “Now it’s time to do a prostate cancer exam.” And those words cancer at that time 18 year old naive, well, first of all, 18 I didn’t even know what a prostate was. My mother is trying to survive cancer. I was terrified of cancer, right. But I also knew going in that I had to pass this physical to be able to play at University of Michigan. So I endured these exams, because one, cancer scared me. And two, it was a part of the protocol to be able to play at the University of Michigan. Now, fast forward, by the time I left Michigan. And I also will say that at that point, as soon as we step off campus, we could never see another doctor unless we saw Anderson first. So when I left St. Louis, Missouri, 1988, I never saw my childhood doctor again in my life for any treatment or anything else because we were forbidden to see other doctors. So whether it was strep throat whether it was food poisoning I started feeling like I was getting an ulcer all these things I had to go see Dr. Anderson. That was his M.O., that now that I know since March of 2020 in all the conversations I’ve had with ex teammates, players from different eras, other victims, that was his process. And it was always 100% under the guise of medical treatment. That’s how that could happen.
– It’s interesting that how that mirrors the process in domestic violence, where the abuser isolates you. So here you are within a system, and yet you have an abuser. Who’s a system that’s actually supported the isolation the non checks and balances of their top professional. Who’s playing their game exclusively. And you’re not able to see all these other people who might say, well, actually you don’t need this kind of test regularly…what about the there could have been checks and balances of other professionals. So I find that an interesting piece in the institutional portion of this, and you touched on something about the recruiting process. So this is like the seduction process, right? Come to us. You can be everything here. We’ve got.
– We have the best medical treatment in the world.
– You said that parents should be part of this process because they’re going to be able to help ask the hard questions. And I’m wondering what are some of those questions? So in that experience, what are some of the questions that the parents can ask
– First, as it pertains to parents and Amos, just jump in we’ve we hit a point in our research for as we’re writing this book together, that we must concentrate on really developing a profile of typical and atypical parents in the recruiting process, because recruiting now even starts in the fifth grade. And so there are things that you, we’re creating standards, if you will, and questions that parents can ask. That’s one. And two, I think the biggest question is to be as invasive in your questioning of the university as a university is on to you. And so ask questions about every person that is going to come into contact with your child. My mother, for instance, was a teacher. I remember every recruiting trip I took. She was like, yeah, these, they play football. They win… all that. I need to know, where are you going to be living? What type of food are you going to have? What’s the education structure like? Are you going to have tutors? You need to ask the tough questions of those universities and realize you have the power to not only be interviewed but you have the power to interview them. And I think as we get through this process, yeah, Amos if you want to in both of them some of the more detailed questions.
– So Jon and I have interviewed parents whose children are athletes who were part of the recruiting process. And I think one of the important functions that our book can offer is literally called it a checklist for parents whose children are or will be going through the recruiting process. And I think the word Jon used was an interesting word invasive. I think that parents need to understand that when the Les Mileses of the world come to the living room, they’re there for one reason. And that’s to convince Vaughn to come to Ann Arbor and the parents, I understand this. There is a little bit of the starlight and the star gazing, a big time coach comes to our living room and all that. That’s fine. The parents’ responsibility is to protect the child in many ways to protect the child from himself or from herself. Because I mean, I obviously was not an athlete. I mean, I played high school sports like everybody else, but right. But I understand that the kid gets caught up in the world, but it’s a romance, right. And I understand that the parents need to be the adults and the parents need to, sit the coach down and ask them questions. Like what percentage of students on your campus are being reporting sexual assaults? What percentage of those sexual assaults are being investigated? How many of your players have come forward and reported this or this? How many of your players are being accused of being committing sexual assaults? What have you done with players on your team who have been accused of sexual assaults turn that all around. Talk about the medical facilities. For instance, when my son or daughter will be seen by Dr. Shmo, is there a chaperone system in place? So some universities now have a chaperone system whereby even if it’s a student above 18 years old has the right to ask that another student come with them to be physically present during the exam. Yes, there’s a way to preserve discretion. There’s way to do that. The question is whether or not the parents are going to ask those really, really really difficult questions and what are they doing when a coach starts, humming and hawing or not being really forthcoming. And I think one of the things that, again, in the context of the book that Jon and I are writing literally putting like not only a checklist, but a star system as a way to, if you will, to grade universities that when coach X comes and he’s not really, forthright like coming honest about it, that, well, this and that, that’s the kind of university that I would like to think that a parent even though there’s that star thing attached to it would be hesitant to suggest to his kid to go there or not to go there.
– Right, and let me add this now, going forward, the facts are that these, some of the most notable names in the world have not policed themselves.
– And it’s going to take, I, and I joke with Amos of this title of one of the chapters, I say it’s going to take a movement of moms, mother bears letting their children go off to college, behind the shields of their father. It’s going to take a concerted effort of the entire recruiting sphere to now hold each other accountable, but also police it. And we in the case of Michigan, it was a lawless and unsupervised and almost separate part of an insulated part of the university that obviously from top to bottom did not police itself.
– No way, but I will. Let’s take it a step further now because you talked about the army of moms and I agree, love the checklist, love this. This is ground floor but it is the preventative piece of, again the child, the parent, everybody who’s potentially a victim having to do all the heavy lifting. And we go back to that institution that should have those elements in place. And let’s say, mom does what your mom did, Jon. She asks all the right questions. He’s going away. Wonderful, wonderful, staying, time, food. What are they eating? What are they doing? She asked the right questions. So now let’s say something happens while a young person is away and Amos I’m thinking about this from the institutional level, somebody comes forward. There’s a lot of pressure on that person. Now you’re the receptacle. You’re not the mom but you’re that person that was a trusted adult that this person came to and said, I got an exam. And it’s not like my regular doctor. I felt a little off, but I don’t know. I don’t know if medical stuff and a little conversation starts, and maybe you heard this for two or three folks now and you’ve come forward. And they’ve said, yeah, these guys don’t know medical but just go back and tell them, it’s fine. And this is a good guy. What are the steps that, that person who may feel pretty powerless. Often the people that folks come to are lower level staffers or people that they engage with that are, that are less powerful. How can that person facilitate change as we currently?
– That’s exactly the question. I think that first of all, the more and more, I mean first of all is mandatory reporting today but what do you do when the person fails in the context of mandatory reporting. There’s the carrot and the stick I’m a firm believer in the stick. And I genuinely believe that regardless of a high level, low-level, mid-level someone who doesn’t protect the Vaughn’s of the world. There needs to be consequences and by not institutionalizing consequences, what happened to Vaughn will happen as we’re having this conversation. And I understand that there’s always a risk the fear of the risk or the risk of the fear of being a whistleblower but as we’ve seen in time after time, after time it’s not only the low-level employer or employee when we listened to Vaughn and DeLuca and Goldman yesterday they were pretty clear that it was it was coach Schembechler and the athletic director, Canam. Wasn’t not low level employees. Those are senior, but, and I want to pick up on a theme that Jon raised which is very true in Ann Arbor, at least Ann Arbor then and I want to be Jon’s right. My dad and my late father taught at Michigan while all this was happening, taught at the medical school. The athletic department was separate from the university. It’s an it is literally an empire onto itself. And there frankly was no sense of accountability demanded by senior university officials of the athletic department. But it’s not only in Michigan, Vaughn was recruited by big time universities across the country. That’s a model that that repeats itself time after time after time. But there’s a different issue that I think we might want to get into. Definitely that’s the role of the NCA. So if you’re looking really carefully at the NCA so they penalize no disrespect intended they’ll . I now saw that they’re going to have some kind of investigation evidently perhaps Arizona state fine, but they’re not going after the really big schools, because the really big schools definitely you did this earlier this, right. And the question is, say really going to come down are those who they really need to come down on are those mid-level schools those mid-level programs is the NCA complicit in this stuff. I think Jon Vaughn was raised his hand and said, yeah, absolutely. And I think, and I think also from our perspective it’s not only the NCA, not only Michigan but it’s also the big thing conference. And those are issues that we’re going to address in the book. I think definitely the employee who now learns that something happens for them to duck behind, oh I might lose my job or, go team go my loyalties institution. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last by now three years that I’ve been working on this project that doesn’t wash and we can’t allow we cannot allow that as an excuse.
– Well, what if that person, what does that person do? So there’s that one person, let’s say it’s somebody that’s just loading the equipment and they love Michigan everything but they heard somebody’s voice and they.
– Boarded up the food.
– You can report.
– Yeah absolutely.
– You can also report it anonymously.
– Escalate, escalate.
– And by the way, definitely you can do it anonymously.
– The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
– But I also want to protect the you’re right about the guy who’s loading the equipment. There are ways today to report anonymously. There’s the internet and we all know how to, I know Vaughn laughs at my technological skills. I know, but we all know how to, file complaints are there ways there are ways if you’re really take the reporting obligation, seriously, there are ways to do it.
– 100%. And so much of identity is wrapped up in place and job and who you are and what you do. And so many people are proud to be part of these institutions, but maybe if they understood from a survivor’s perspective, because Jon was also really proud. Jon’s not trying to sell out Michigan. Jon was probably with the insignia with the shirt, walking around campus, going to the games probably supporting other Michigan sports and becoming a Michigan man became part of his identity. And so I wonder, Jon is you have to kind of extrapolate that piece of who you are to the individual Jon Vaughn. How does that process take place and how do you become, get out of that being a cog of the machine of sports and Michigan and part of the and become Jon again and say, whoa, this may be big. And this isn’t who I am necessarily, in fact Michigan is who’s hurting me right now.
– Right, I think hindsight is 2020. If I was to look back on it with how I feel and think as a 50 year old, I would tell the 18 year old self that I am more than a number. I do have worth, right. And I will never let them take my name and who I am. And so it’s interesting back in, my era you’d come into camp and you were like a number you go from being a star in your high school to a number until you prove yourself that you’re worthy of carrying the wing helmet out there on the field getting a number on the back of your Jersey. I always find it interesting in sports is the number selection process that guys go through. I had this in high school or whatnot. We need to get back to, and I just speak for my era at Michigan, like our class we had five star, all Americans, eventual Heisman trophy winners, several pro players. But we came in and we won our class five straight Big 10 championships. I don’t think that’s ever been done. And I don’t think it’s ever been repeated before or after us. And so we have to go back to understanding that, yes we play for Michigan, but also Michigan wouldn’t be Michigan without all of us players. And to look at the money side of sports and it’s kind of a ridiculous analogy, but, or rhetorical but I can’t remember the last time in my 50 years of life on Saturday afternoon at one o’clock I was watching a science lab in any of these universities. I was watching the football team which is the number one marketing arm of these institutions. And so we matter, the players do matter and I think it goes up and beyond your worth is, well I’m giving you a scholarship and I’m giving you this. But I’m also now on the flip side, giving you my body I’m playing through pain, I’m playing through fevers I’m playing through surgeries and illnesses and all these other things. And there needs to be a balance of power. We need to be able to have a voice just like the coaches have a voice and we have to get away from this do, as I say, not as I do all of these, if you look at just this case specifically you have a legendary coach that has some of the greatest speeches and phrases and parables in sport but when you break it all down, several in that organization, didn’t live up to those words. So you’ve got to take back your human and civil rights as a person.
– What’s interesting Jon, when you were talking about number and my mind just flashed to like how you personalizing a number is so during the recruitment process, it’s all about you they’re in your personal home, your future what do you want to be when you grow up kid, with this education and this, we’re going to rip your body to shreds but when it comes down to and and they give you the whole picture and do you like girls? What kind of girls do you, I mean they probably talk about everything that you enjoy from your favorite color to your favorite food. Let me get you a couple of those, fried poppers. I hear you like, and suddenly she get out on that field. Boom, it’s a number on your back. And I think about how numbers are depersonalized. When you see anybody in a prison mugshot you got a number when we, some of the worst elements of our history and wars, people are marked with numbers. And there’s a way that we depersonalize people’s hearts and souls, and we pull the camera way back. And I just see a bunch of numbers running around and their stats and the stats are numbers. And I think sometimes the more you strip people’s humanities, the more it’s a game. I mean, you think of earliest sports the Christians and the Romans and these folks fighting lions in the arena at sport has a blood element to it. And yet then we say, people critique the system because it said like, fight, fight, fight, fight. And then when it comes time to, oh, you’re a survivor someone hurt, shh don’t say anything, don’t fight. So you’re trained with all this fight energy and then told to use none of it to fight for yourself. And to me, this is criminal, and Amos, abuse doesn’t obviously just happen in the U.S and the sports system it’s happening everywhere. I wonder if you can speak to just that why we need to criminalize the enabler and the bystander at the state level, at the national level and at the world level, the global.
– Sure, I think that now that Corona, hopefully, on it’s death throes that we We need to confront the two epidemics that are truly confronting the world. Epidemic number one is the epidemic of sexual abuse worldwide. And I’ll give you an example in a second. And the other epidemic is the epidemic of the enabler because without the enabler, there’s no sexual abuse which is why I really genuinely believe or at least I’ve convinced myself, right. That we need to criminalize the enabler and the bystander. I think I’m right, Jon, if I’m, if I misspeak you’ll correct me by now either together or individually we have interacted with people from around 30 different countries on this issue, including people who, and I want to I think it’s important to speak, frankly, on this issue I did a webinar and there was a woman from Malaysia. I mean, she was clearly Muslim and traditional, with the head covering. I live in Israel for a Malaysian woman to openly interact with an Israeli. I found that to be extraordinary. And in the same webinar, there was a woman either from Abu Dhabi or Dubai, openly engaging with me. And I’m here. I mean, here being Israel. And I said to, I didn’t speak directly to them because I wanted to be discreet about it. But I said to the audience, there was a huge audience. I said, here’s what I’ve learned that there may be geopolitics and there may be geopolitical borders but with respect to sexual abuse it’s borderless. And I know that Jon’s received emails from people who frankly, are taking an enormous risk emailing him because, you email you make yourself vulnerable and do they have fictitious emails? I don’t know. I leave the technology to other people, but the fact that these two women, the Malaysian woman, and the woman from Abu Dhabi and the, you could see them they weren’t identified by name and by face. I was like, that to me was a powerful powerful moment that told me how universal this is. And that’s why I’m so honored to be testifying in front of the Victoria legislature on this issue. And I will, I am fully locked in on testifying, whether it’s in court. to legislatures around the world, on the enabler bystander because I genuinely believe, maybe I’ve convinced myself that the consequences of institutional complicity are so overwhelmingly dangerous and harmful that if we don’t address that, then here’s what’s going to happen. The two of you are much younger than me. And if we don’t address this, when the two of you are my age we’ll be dealing with the same thing all over again and nothing will ever change. And I think if you were to ask Jon about the book we’re writing, one of the reasons we’re writing this book is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
– Right. And to be writing it while it’s all happening to have a firsthand account of how the, I mean, it’s so funny like how Michigan is still gaslighting us and still grooming us as Michigan men too. I mean, it comes down to something very simple, when they come into your home and they tell your parents and I know several cases where coaches would actually tell parents, mine and others. You did a great job here, but they come to Michigan we’re going to help make your ma- your son, a man. Right. And which is crazy to me and how you’re expected as a student athlete to have more love for the institution than you have for yourself. That in itself is a flawed system.
– Totally flawed system. And Jon, if somebody were, people that are listening to us right now we can’t see them. They have a sense of anonymity. And by the way, any of you that have questions please put them in the chat box. But Jon, if somebody is sitting there and their hands are in their lap and her head’s down and they’re having that experience that so many of us have when somebody tells their truth and they say, well, this happened to me. And what would you say to that person right now? Like maybe they don’t want to come forward. Maybe they’re just sitting there with these feelings and they don’t really have anyone to go to right now. What would you say to that hurting heart?
– The first thing I would do and what I learned to do privately before I actually did it publicly, especially when things get dark, I would sit in the mirror and I would say to myself, I am not John Doe. I’m Jon Vaughn over and over and over again until the villainization that these institutions are doing. I took my name back. I took my face back. I took my voice back. So, and I called on this is where I think the Michigans of the world fail is they forget what they trained us. They don’t realize I’m built for this. And you call on that God given ability and greatness that has been bestowed on you. And then you speak out and you keep speaking out because I truly believe the squeaky wheel will get the oil. I mean, there was relief. I mean, this is interesting yesterday we had a I would say it’s a watershed moment in the battle against Michigan. And there have been people that I’ve talked to every day in this journey. And there were days we didn’t even know the end of the tunnel was to even see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we kept going back to how we were trained in sports. It’s like, all right, this is the first quarter. We’re feeling each other out. We have to maintain this intensity until we get into the fourth quarter or the championship rounds but it’s going to be a fight. The first thing you need to do is come to the realization that it’s going to be a fight. And it’s probably going to be the biggest fight of your life. But it’s something in you as an athlete whether it’s at the high school or the grade school level it’s something in you as an athlete that you learn to push yourself further. You don’t get into shape until you are tired. So draw on that physical because what the mind can conceive the body can achieve that’s the same as when I was 18 to the same as when I was then on I’m 51 I tell my attorney all the time, just give me the ball because that’s what I know how to do. Give me the ball and that’s what I know how to do.
– Jon, I got to tell you as a Michigan fan, I’m intrigued. They use Bo’s great line.
– Well, you know what I would say also, in addition to that even if somebody listening here today is more on the academic side or maybe they’ve never even played a sport. If you’re sitting with that feeling what Jon is describing, being depersonalized being a number, being having to reclaim your voice and your name that can happen whether it’s one predator who chose you and groomed you and brought you into this circumstance of pain and heart and where you almost feel dissociated from yourself that can happen to one person to one person without an institution involved. But it’s still that de-personalization. And there’s probably still bystanders and enablers that somehow either by not acting or maybe not believing when you came forth with a little bit when you try to give, a little bit of your story and you felt like you weren’t supported and if you just walk away knowing number one it is never ever your fault. Number two, as Jon said, you deserve to reclaim your name, your space, and your power in this world. And three there is something, if you do gain the strength if you do feel ready that you can do about this that you can take action with people who are allies and friends and won’t abuse you. Amos, I wanted you to talk a little bit about.
– One more as four just one more is four. This doesn’t matter what industry you in I’ve heard the term “I stand to put my game face on.” Whatever you do whether it’s a teacher, whether it’s a doctor whether it’s a lawyer, we all put our game face on to achieve the success that we have in whatever field. So put your game face on.
– That is great advice. And Amos, I have a, we have a couple of questions coming up, but I wanted to kind of wrap up one piece before we get to those questions with. Jonathan has kind of given us a good sense of how to claim back some power and then create change in the world. You’re doing it in the work that you’re doing in the collaboration together is going to create real change for a lot of people that you may never meet when you start to take it to that legislative level. One of the things I’m really proud of, I have it here at my bookcase is this pen it’s assigning pen for from the governor’s office, where I was able to go and the work that was done to extend the statute of limitations in Arizona, this is where that pen came from. And so I keep it on my bookcase and I use it for special things, but it is, I may never meet those people, but their lives have changed and they are able to get help because we extended that statute. Tell us a little bit about what you guys are doing maybe for the people you’ll never meet what you’re doing to create that change.
– For me the most important fight in addition to writing the book with Vaughn and other projects, but in terms of the legislative effort, for me, it really is working with legislators, public officials thought leaders, media, terrific opportunities like this to push the envelope on criminalizing the bystander and the enabler, because absent that. And I do believe in criminalizing and I believe in holding people accountable, not from a moral perspective but from a legal perspective. And so for me, well, I’m involved in different projects, different writing projects and different avenues forums. What it really funnels into is criminalizing the bystander and the enabler. I’m well aware of the fact that there is pushback that I’m told, well, you’ve got to understand maybe there’s we should have, we should talk with them rather than we should punish them. I don’t agree with that. I do understand the importance of educating but I won’t be deterred from the effort to also criminalizing and yes, education’s fine. I get that. And I speak to junior high schools and high schools across the country, and that’s important. Critical. But so is criminalizing.
– And you put teeth to it. It’s interesting. It’s the action piece. So you can educate until the cows come home we do a lot of that, but until people start seeing people be put away for these actions I don’t think the education will always seep in, especially if somebody is slightly predatory or predatory adjacent, that’s a huge problem. And so, yeah, let’s see real accountability. I’m getting actually some great questions coming in from our listeners. And I’m going to throw the first one out here. The first one is these universities are so powerful and people feel voiceless, no one wants to lose their scholarships. Is it ever possible for this to change?
– Absolutely, I believe that. And one of the things that I’m committed to is setting up a system and a support group where if you can’t get to me directly to tell your story to say that I am such and such, I am not Jane or John Doe we’re going to respond and we’re going to advocate and to the best of my ability, and it was one commitment that Amos and I made to each other we will not quit until this is eradicated from sports globally. Our job will not be done.
– I think I’m sure I’m speaking for Jon. Also, when I say, pardon, my English, we really, really really don’t care who we piss off. I mean, it’s just not important.
– I appreciate that energy because a lot of times we couch things in such careful language. And everything gets watered down and everything so cautious and we’re tiptoeing around and it makes it seem not as urgent. And I like that you guys have both been coming out Jonathan from like the hard hitting emotional football, intellectual. You’re bringing all the heavy hitting powerhouse language. And Amos, from getting out there and just saying it very much in those raw terms, but then saying, oh, and by the way here’s all of my research that I’ve been doing for years that that’s going to back that up. And I think the combination of both of that and the fact that Jonathan, you came for this education and now what you’re saying is I get it now I’m part of the, now the collaboration of this academic piece. And let me break it down for people that are just starting the conversation. Cause someone’s going to come to you and say, okay I tried to read, there was certain footnotes and everything I didn’t get here and you’re going to break it down and you’re going to say, this is what it means. This is what’s valuable. And I wanted you to know that somebody wrote in with a question and I liked the way it begins that they said, thank you so much for this discussion incredibly powerful. So I appreciate that. Thank you very much for saying that to our panelists. I have concerns about hypothetically, an individual who may be a bystander who is also managing their own abuse and not prepared or able to report being further traumatized by being categorized an enabler and criminalized.
– Yeah, that’s an excellent point. We took that into consideration in the context of the legislation where we have it’s a great question where we created carve outs where if reporting or acting would conceivably potentially harm you. Then there is language that mitigates that we’re well aware of that we’re particularly aware of that with respect to domestic violence where Partner A or Parent A is the violent one. And then the other parent partner is there when the violence occurs, are they a victim are they enabler are they a bystander? And we’re very, very careful with that in terms of the legislative language. The question is spot on. It is one of the challenges in this issue, but there’s a but as important as that question is and I understand it. It in no way minimizes or mitigates the overarching need to criminalize the bystander and the enabler. Understood, understood. Well, and one of the elements here, as well as, sometimes people who have been abused. So I think about the battered woman syndrome and the way that we approach that in the child welfare agency, understanding that yeah, the average mother would come forward and support her child. Sometimes a battered woman syndrome or folks with extreme mental health issues. People who have a low IQ, there a whole series of things.
– There’s a whole series of issues, but we took this into consideration and working in the language and the legislative language.
– That’s why we have mitigating and minimize, mitigating language. But again, as I say, as important as that point and the person asking the question is spot on. It doesn’t minimize that the absolute need to have such legislation.
– Not at all. And the special cases are exactly why they’re special language.
– That’s right, that’s exactly right.
– In general, this is happening. Like, unfortunately it’s happening. Like drive-throughs on every block. There is one in four girls, one in six boys.
– That’s right.
– Now that we, the final question here, now that we understand what bystanders and enablers are. Can you tell us what it looks like to be a change maker in an institution? Great question.
– I look at Jon Vaughn and I say. I think that the, the tag team between Vaughn and myself works, I mean, we can laugh here, right? Vaughn’s this African-American star athlete. I’m just the white guy who writes the books, right. And it obviously works because there’s something obviously compelling in telling the story together. I mean, I’ll let Jon speak first because he clearly is a change agent because he’s Jon Vaughn was John Doe and he said the hell with John Doe, I’m Jon Vaughn. And I think that if you want to talk about a change agent that’s where it begins, but I’ll let you turn the question to Jon and then I’ll chime in.
– Well, and I think an Amos is extremely humble but he’s also extremely empathetic because he also has written about his parents and their journey out of the Holocaust. So there’s a level of empathy that we have for each other that was outside of the sports that kind of galvanized our friendship. And there’s a particular victim. And I look at a butterfly when you go from a caterpillar to a butterfly and it’s this metamorphosis. There’s a victim — current victim in this that throughout the last year. The only thing that he could say to me and has said to me is “Me too.” I feel like every time that he reaches out or that he’s going to talk that right now, all he can say is to “Me too.” But the more you say “me too,” the more that we’re metamorphosis, I don’t know the more, the inevitable metamorphosis will be when you say to yourself, I am not John Doe I am not Jane Doe, I am Jon Vaughn and whatever your name is. And that is so powerful. So sometimes being a change agent is not, renovating the entire house. Sometimes it’s just adding a little color and it takes steps, and it’s a gradual process and let’s not be, let’s be realistic about it’s also a painful process. There’s been a lot of pain that I’ve had to go through and still am going through. And will probably go through for the rest of my life because I realized how much the effect of that abuse has now, when I look back and I go through therapy and I talked to him about how much it affected so many areas of my life. But I believe one voice can change the world if a million voices are all speaking the same language at a time, and that’s the thing, your courage, your voice or someone else’s that you latch onto you never know whose lives that’s going to save. And I tell Amos all the time not from a physical standpoint but our relationship has saved my life. Because finding out about what happened at Michigan rock the foundation of things that I have applied to my life since I got on campus in 1988. So just imagine, three decades of a foundation that has now crumbled to the ground, like he helped me to understand what’s going on, but also to find that running back from within and that’s, that’s priceless, and it comes a moment in this victim to survivor period that you’ve got to find that, which just brings you back out of the darkness. And most things grow in the sunlight. So remember that.
– Jon, I think you are probably that same person to somebody whose only words to you right now are me too. You’re giving, Amos is giving voice to a whole body of research you were seeking. You are giving voice to that guy’s experience that he’s trying to unpack. And I think both of your voices here today have definitely opened a lot of eyes, brought a lot of people into this issue. And if you just had a parting phrase or something to leave people with, that was a beautiful one Jon. And Amos, thank you so much as well. You both have formed a phenomenal partnership. That’s not only going to knock down corrupt systems but I think it’s going to save a lot of lives. And I just, I thank you both. I thank those folks that were brave and sentence questions, thank you. They were thought provoking and they were smart. Special thanks also for The Foundation for Global Sports development for their amazing philanthropic work and the award-winning Sidewinder films for telling true stories that give back their voices. I hope that you will tune in if you have time to our resources and Q&A session that will be at 12:15. So mere minutes from now PST. And we’ll answer any questions that you have as well as offer prevention strategies and additional resources. You won’t want to miss it. And please just consume everything these two guys are putting out into the world follow them on social, find the website get everything you can, because you can be part of armies of saviors, not armies of enablers. So thank you so much, Professor Guiora – Amos, Jonathan Vaughn, everybody here today have.
– Thank you very much.
– Thank you very much.
– Thank you.
- Jonathan Vaughn – Former NFL player and Survivor of Dr. Anderson at the University of Michigan
- Prof. Amos Guiora – Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law and author of the book “Armies of Enablers”
- Moderated by Daphne Young, Chief Communications Officer at Childhelp
Institutions – such as universities and organizations – play a critical role in keeping athletes safe. This session will explore strategies for supporting survivors, creating protection policies, and how to be an institutional change-maker at the individual level.