TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT, RAPE.
In 4th grade I moved to a new private school where I got a new teacher and a new room full of classmates. My teacher had an interesting system for discipline that I had never seen before. Every student started with a green card. If we were bad we got a yellow warning card, then if you got in trouble again, it would turn into a red card 1, then red card 2, and 3. If you got a red card 3, you were in deep shit. On the other hand, if you were a super good student, you upgraded to a purple card. See purple card students were special, they got to go back to this room that he had built in the classroom. It was walls of bookshelves to create a small room in the corner of the class. After lunch, the teacher would lock the door, put up a do not disturb sign and we would have nap time. Students who had purple cards would get to go into the bookshelf room and watch a movie. I did everything in my power to earn a purple card, I wanted one so bad…. That is, until I got one. The coolest thing about my new 4th grade teacher is that he taught guitar lessons. We would stay after school on Tuesday and Thursdays and learn from him. My new teacher was a very caring man. He always wanted to make sure the students were involved, so he gave these lessons to students from other classes and grades. It was there that I met Frankie. Frankie was a 6th grader who was also a member of glee. Frankie was into this girl Maria. I could tell because he asked how to play the song “pretty woman”. It was cheesy but I thought it was cool. It was close to the end of the day’s lesson, so Frankie stayed afterwards to learn the song. The next day I arrived in class to find that I still had a green card. Maria saw my green card next to hers and said, “it’s not fair, I don’t understand why some people get purple cards and some don’t”. She had the same distain for fellow classmate Sterling and I watched her switch his purple card to a red card 3. “Who did this?!” The teacher yelled at us and looked deep into all of our eyes, “I can tell if you are lying to me… who switched the card?!” Maria looked so calm and cool and I tried my best to do the same, I would not rat her out. This guy had nothing on us.. well on Maria- no one would fess up, and to be honest- who cares? It was a freaking card… well, a card that I wanted. I started to wonder if I told him Maria did it, he would give me a purple card as a reward. Before my mind was made up, my mouth blurted out.. “Maria did it!... I saw her do it.”From the corner of my eye I saw Maria’s mouth drop…. I shut my eyes.. I can’t believe I just did that. On the way to school the next day I ran into Frankie and he showed me some new songs outside class before school started. Maria walked up, and Frankie began to play the riff to Pretty Woman… but different words came out… “Ugly Maria.. walking down the street.. ugly maria.. the girl you don’t want to meet…” Maria was embarrassed… gave us an angry look and hurried inside the classroom. Maybe that was Frankie’s way of proclaiming his love? I walked into the classroom to see that I had finally received my purple card. Yes! After lunch, I would have the privilege to hang out with the other cool purple card kids, behind the bookshelf walls, in the corner of the classroom. He locked the door, asked for the purple card kids to join him… and he threw on a flick. “Hey buddy, I think the newest purple card holder should sit next to me.” In the back of the room, he had his desk. With two chairs, next to each other. He patted the seat and said, “take a load off.” I sat next to him, excited to watch whatever movie he picked for us. The room was dark and I felt his knee brush mine. He whispered, “do you like your new purple card?” as his hand brushed my crotch, “it’s ok… doesn’t that feel good?” The movie was over and I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of class. After guitar lessons that day, he asked me to stay behind. “No one in class knows this, but I have cancer… and I’d really like it, if I could just relax and hang out with a friend, you’re my friend right? You are going to be a great man… just so.. strong, smart”, Sure… Sounds like fun…. “Bring a bathing suit” He smiled, squeezed my arm, and walked away. It took a while for him to resign, since many students felt loyal to the man who, what did the article say? "made students feel that he cared deeply about their education and their well-being. In return, a pretty sophisticated student body chose to view his behavior as merely odd when, in many other contexts, it would have been deemed outrageous or even threatening." He finally left after a frankie reported an incident after guitar lessons — he pressed against him in the dark, then took him aside, and grabbed his crotch. It was finally my turn at the stand. It felt so weird to testify against a man I trusted, looked up to, and…. "He told me to bring a bathing suit, but when I got there he said not to bother putting it on. I was really uncomfortable but did it anyway since he was across the room. I remember exactly what he said: that he needed to see the connection between my legs. The next thing I knew, he had my penis in his hand. I was so scared. He was a pretty intimidating guy. He began performing fellatio and masturbating," But he went on to another private school, where officials said no one indicated he would be anything other than a "safe bet." When that job didn't work out, he killed himself. Multiple other students were also abused by him. You see, he was a hero to me, But he was also a monster.” Frankies lawyer warned the family that there was nothing they could do unless they had evidence of the abuse on tape. Eventually, Frankies mother dropped the case. 15 years later, Frankie committed suicide. But, given that very few victims speak out, this is a sobering reminder of what happens to people who are sexually assaulted and deal with the trauma for decades after. Since it's extremely difficult for people who have been abused by authority figures to come forward, it's imperative that administrations take responsibility for even the most scandalous, unspeakable events. I didn’t tell my story, until it was too late. Frankie wouldn’t have died, if I told my story sooner.