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(Note: This is an article originally printed in Cosmogirl from August of 2004. It's told by the girl that had the affair that put Frank Warecke, my former baseball coach at O'Brien Tech, in jail for Sexual Assault in the 2nd Degree. I admit I'm biased because I detested him, and still do, but I am also disgusted because I know full well what it's like to coach high school girls from my time at Trumbull High... and this is a line you NEVER CROSS. EVER. Shit, I would get disgusted when my idiot friends would all ask "so, are any of 'em hot?"; I couldn't think about them like that. That's like asking if I thought my cousin was hot. And even years later, with my first crop of seniors graduating college this year, I STILL can't think of them like that)

"I had an affair with my coach": Vanessa Silva was a star player on her high school basketball team. But to her coach, she was much more than that. As told to Maura Kelly.(My Story)

COPYRIGHT 2004 © Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I loved going to high school at Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury, Connecticut, where I grew up. I was doing really well in all my classes and had an awesome group of friends. Then, halfway through my sophomore year, in February 2001, things got even better: I made the varsity basketball team.

I'd already known the coach, Frank Warecke, because he also taught my freshman drafting class. Plus, he was a popular teacher with all the students. At 37, he didn't seem "old" at all--he was kind of cute, and he talked to his students and players as friends. Like, he'd tell us stories about how he used to party when he was our age instead of warning us of the dangers of drinking, the way the other teachers did.

Junior year, I was voted best player at a technical high school in my city. I knew Coach had always respected my skills as a player, but this made me feel more confident around him. I'd always been kind of jealous of the seniors on the varsity team because he'd pay more attention to them during practice, but now I felt like I could be in his inner circle too. I started stopping by his classroom after school, and we'd hang out and talk about stuff like basketball, our weekends, whatever. At first I just wanted to know him as well as the seniors did, but then I realized that I really liked hanging out with him. I'd always felt more mature than guys my age--and I'd only dated two people. But Coach seemed to understand me.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

out of bounds

In February of my senior year, a few months into basketball season, I noticed Coach talking to my teammates Tanya * and Teela * a lot. Whenever I'd walk over to them, they'd stop, like they had a secret. When I asked what was up, they said Coach had sworn them to secrecy. But I bugged Tanya until she told me. And when she did, I was shocked: Coach had a crush on me. Tanya said she was weirded out when he told her. But when he talked about how his wife didn't love him anymore and wouldn't have sex with him, she felt sorry for him. And so did I.

I'd never thought Coach treated me any different from the other players, and at home that night, I kept trying to convince myself he was joking. But just so I wouldn't feel awkward around him the next day, I decided to let him know I knew his secret and to make light of it. I e-mailed him at the address he used to send us team-related stuff: "I found out what your secret was!" When he saw me in the hall the next day, he called me into his classroom. "What do you want out of this?" he asked. I just sort of froze--I mean, I hadn't actually thought he wanted to date me. So I just said "I'm not sure" and walked out.

foul play

For the next two weeks, I tried to act normal at practice, but the whole time I was thinking about Coach. The weirdest part was I actually had feelings for him--like, feelings feelings. But I tried to ignore them. He was my coach and teacher, after all. Then one day, he told me to meet him in his classroom after practice so he could give me something. When I walked in, he was standing at his desk smiling--and at that moment, I felt totally attracted to him. "What do you have?" I said, playing along--I knew he wanted to kiss me. "You want it?" he asked. I said yes, and he grabbed me and started French-kissing me. When we stopped, I left without saying anything. But I admit, I loved every minute of it. I started stopping by after school regularly. We'd kiss, hold hands, talk ... normal girlfriend-boyfriend stuff. Then one afternoon, we were kissing as usual, when suddenly, he pulled down my pants and underwear, got on his knees, and said, "Now for my specialty." Then he gave me oral sex. After that day, I started calling him Frank when we were alone.

About a month later, this guy at school asked me out, and Frank overheard him. That afternoon, he yelled at me, "Is this just a fling for you?" I started crying and told him I loved him--and I realized that I meant it. And right then, I decided I was ready to lose my virginity. We planned to meet in the parking lot after practice. I lay on the backseat of his car, and he put a condom on. But when we tried to do it, it hurt too much and I had to stop. A week later, we tried again. But that time, Frank couldn't keep his erection. We never got to try after that because a few days later, things got crazy.

game over

Frank was in his classroom when Teela went in and gave him some bad news: Someone had asked her and this girl Stephanie * what was up between me and Frank. Frank started pacing and saying, "I can't believe it." Later I found out that he went to the cafeteria and pushed Stephanie against the wall, screaming, "If you say anything, I'll rip your f ***ing head off!" Everyone saw it happen, and Frank was suspended. When the assistant principal asked me what was going on, I said nothing. Then she asked me whether Frank had ever touched me "inappropriately." To protect him, I said no. Besides, it wasn't inappropriate to me--in my mind, he was my boyfriend.

A few nights later, two cops came to my house with a letter that a teacher had found in Frank's desk. It said "I can't wait to see you again. Call me later. Love, Guess Who?" Even though I hadn't signed my name, I knew someone would figure out it was me by my handwriting. I got scared and told them everything. When my parents came downstairs and the police told them about the affair, my mom just hugged me and said she and my dad were on my side, no matter what. But I could only think about Frank. I wanted to call him so badly and tell him what I'd done, but I didn't want to make things worse. Later that night, the cops came back to tell me Frank had been arrested--he had admitted to the affair.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

During the next few months, while he was out on bail awaiting his sentencing, Frank wrote me letters saying how much he loved me. But I never wrote back. I'd started seeing a therapist, and it was slowly becoming clear to me that Frank knew our relationship was illegal, yet he used his authority to overpower me and make me feel what we were doing was okay. It wasn't. And it wasn't love.

In February 2004, he pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault for breaking a Connecticut state law that prohibits sex between a teacher and a student. He was sentenced to three years and nine months in jail. When he gets out, he can't teach or coach, and I've heard his wife is divorcing him. At his sentencing, I heard him say he still loved me. He even called me his "soul mate."

bouncing back

I'm 18 and in college now, studying to become a physical therapist. So far, I'm not dating. Logically, I know that every guy in the world is not like Frank, yet I can't help but think that if someone I respected that much could do something so screwed up, who can I trust? But I've realized one thing: I always wanted to make Frank happy--I never thought about myself. Now I'm focusing on living up to my own ideals--not someone else's.

* Names have been changed.

RELATED ARTICLE: how nice is too nice?

If a teacher or coach starts acting more like a friend, he or she may be crossing the line. An authority figure who does any of this stuff might be getting too close--and that's not okay. Make sure you tell someone, like your mom or a guidance counselor, immediately, if he or she ...

>Talks to you about sex or asks you about your dating or sexual experiences with guys.

>Touches you inappropriately--like on your upper leg or near your butt or breasts.

>Gives you a "friendly" hello or good-bye kiss.

>Gives you gifts for no particular occasion.

>Calls or e-mails you about personal stuff or invites you out alone.

--Michelle Lee Ribeiro

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
samuraiter
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
I think my girls have the right idea nowadays. They think every coach – male or female – is pervy by default.
superbus
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Well, fuck. :(
samuraiter
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
It keeps 'em safe, right?
superbus
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
No, it just makes them paranoid. Those kinds of assumptions have gotten good people in trouble at a time when everyone is paranoid that everyone is a paedophile. Your daughters seem reasonable enough to know how to defend themselves if an inappropriate situation arises, but to write people off that quickly is, to put it bluntly, asinine.
popo_licious
Jun. 16th, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
There are so many messed up folks out there in the world. An old math teacher of mine--who I used to stay after class with regularly for one-on-one help--got caught in the same position a few years ago after his marriage started falling apart. He eventually turned himself in to an adult detention center for having an affair with a girl he tutored outside of school. My parent's were totally freaked out with my mom crying and all, and I had to convince them that he never tried anything with me or my friends, which he thankfully didn't. Still, pretty scary stuff. You never know with people. :/

Were you an actual student of this creep or a co-worker or something? :O
superbus
Jun. 17th, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
There's a difference: your teacher turned himself in willingly (I'm assuming); he knew he was in trouble. Sometimes, you lose your mind when it comes to getting a new fling; I know I have, though again, I've never even thought of a "fling" with any girl I've taught or coached. And honestly? Assuming that Aileen and I were to break up... I don't think I'd even go near that age bracket. I figure that anyone young enough for me to have coached (Class of '05 and younger) is too young for me to date/have sex with.

It'd be like me hitting on you, for example; I remember a precocious little 14 year old girl posting pictures of her Mario jammies to the board, at the same time I was tracking down who was tricking our female members into showing their tits. Yeah, you're 19 and heading into your sophomore year of college now... but I still have that image of that little 14 year old girl in my head, and even someone your age, it'd be too weird.

I was his student; he coached my team when I was a freshman, and he just about ran me out of baseball. He fucked up my swing, jerked me around, and basically destroyed my confidence. I didn't have a real catcher's mitt back then - my closest thing was the one I used when I was 11 - and he wouldn't even let me borrow someone else's, so I had issues catching. I never got my confidence back, and I remember that I needed one more game to get my letter (we need 10/20 or more)... and the last three games, I sat. We'd clinched a playoff birth, he probably felt I didn't "earn" it. I was the only varsity player not to get a letter. I never forgave him for that, or for the next year, when he basically used my school as a stepping stone for the Abbott Tech job. I was fifteen back then, and I didn't actually start getting back into baseball until I was in my 20s; he fucked me up that much.
burning_phoneix
Jun. 17th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
I know this sounds weird but I find my cousin hot. :(
otosaretatenshi
Jun. 17th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I have half a mind to post the pedobear seal of approval here...
vyctori
Jun. 17th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
Holy shit, that's nuts--even moreso because you knew him. That poor girl.
superbus
Jun. 17th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
That poor girl.

I disagree; I don't find her to be a victim. My mother said it best when I sent her the article:

"This girl...stupid, silly, juvenile...not a victim."

She's 17; girls don't just all of a sudden become 10X smarter when the clock strikes 12 on their 18th birthday. She knew what was going on. Personally? That therapist probably helped her realize things that she knew in her head all along, but hey, she had a crush.

That doesn't make him any less of a douchebag, granted. But bear in mind that in Connecticut, this is legal if he's not her teacher.

Edited at 2009-06-17 03:17 am (UTC)
vyctori
Jun. 17th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if I agree. I was hopelessly naïve when I was seventeen, so I can see someone that age getting caught up in the attention, even one who knows the signs of abuse. Admittedly, I was even more sheltered at the time than I am now, but regardless--would I have let an adult abuse me like that? I sure as hell hope not, but if it was someone I'd previously trusted who was doing this, and who claimed to have feelings for me...well, that'd probably muddy the waters a fair bit.

Edited at 2009-06-17 05:04 am (UTC)
superbus
Jun. 17th, 2009 06:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, but naivete only goes so far. What our laws are saying is that at 11:59PM, before your 18th birthday, you're an idiot and can't fend for yourself. Then, you instantly become smarter once that hand hits the 12. It makes no sense.

My feeling is that this girl would be just as "violated" at 18 or 19 as she would have been at 17. She got delusions of grandeur, and there's only so long being "naive" can last, and I think at that point, senior year of high school, if you're still that naive, you're in big trouble.
vyctori
Jun. 17th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
I'm still not quite sure where my feelings lie on this one, but I'll definitely agree that the laws make no sense. Hard to know how to make them make more sense, though, since everyone matures at a different rate.
bardiche
Jun. 17th, 2009 05:05 am (UTC)
... I know I really should have more of substance to say to such things than this, but seriously, I found that really fucking disturbing.

At least the guy did go to gaol for overstepping his boundaries as an authority figure. I don't really think of the girl as being a "victim" in this so much as someone that simply didn't know better at the time, but in a sense, the teacher did prey upon her, and...

Yeah. Like I said, I find it fucking disturbing.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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