Is Coach in Steubenville Rape Case Another Joe Paterno?

The Atlantic Wire’s Alexander Abad-Santos thinks so, pointing out a trail of text messages that suggest football coach Reno Saccoccia covered up the rape of an inebriated teenaged girl at a series of parties.

On August 13, [Trent] Mays sent this text to Evan Westlake, a fellow football player who filmed the now infamous 12-minute viral video making fun of the victim:

Delete that off You-tube. Coach Sac knows about it. Seriously delete it.

Saccoccia has claimed in media reports that he “didn’t do Internet” and had not seen the videos in the case, but this text message from states that Mays believed Saccoccia did know about the incident and the video. On August 13, Mays sent this text to the victim:

Reno (football coach Reno Saccoccia) just called my house and said I raped you

On August, 14 Mays sent this text to a still unnamed friend, acknowledging that Reno was going to “take care of it” if the victim’s parents took their case to court:

I got Reno. He took care of it and shit ain’t gonna happen, even if they did take it to court. Like he was joking about it so I’m not worried.

The Paterno comparison derives not just from the potential cover-up, but the mythic status Reno commanded in a small town obsessed with its football team, and the tangled connections so many in the legal community had to “Coach Sac’s” program. Not least, his players thought of him as an omnipotent patriarch, somehow able to subvert the law to protect them. Now, he may face legal action Paterno never did, as the Ohio D.A. has convened a grand jury to bring additional charges (e.g., failure to report a crime) against new defendants. [Atlantic Wire]