Letter: A good coach's career is over due to an unsubstantiated claim

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I am writing this letter in support of Shawn Gravalin, who resigned his coaching positions and paraprofessional position after the Pelican Rapids School District gave him no support (and really no choice) following an alleged incident of “inappropriately touching a player's butt” in basketball practice.

Let’s use our common sense and look at the facts: At the time of the alleged incident, Gravalin was coaching practice in the Pelican Rapids gym, with the entire team on the floor. He was conducting a drill in which he was demonstrating a basketball fundamental technique. Another adult coach was present, and the school’s video surveillance was recording. Does it make sense that intentional inappropriate touching would or could take place given these facts? Contact made with any of the players would be inadvertent, innocent and accidental. Basketball is a contact sport. When you’re teaching techniques, you demonstrate. When you demonstrate, there is often contact. That’s called coaching.

Statistics are easy to find about how often women and men are assaulted in our country. How many of those assaults happened in public places with witnesses - including a co-worker - and video surveillance?

In this particular case, absolutely no evidence was found to support the accusation. The end result is the school district lost a loyal employee whose reputation has been damaged forever. Who would want to be a teacher or coach? Apparently, accusations are considered to be true even with no evidence to support the claim, either from law enforcement or the school system.

Just because you say it doesn’t make it true. Just because it’s written in the paper, doesn’t make it true. It’s sad that as humans we would much rather think the worst in someone than find out the truth.

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