by Melinda Tankard Reist, Contributing Writer for AnaiRhoads.org
Shaun Metcalf has been given a second chance at playing for the New Zealand Warriors after repeatedly kicking his 15-year old girlfriend in the stomach in an attempt to cause her to abort their baby.
Metcalf, now 23, was sentenced to 18 months jail in 2004 where he spent five months before and being released to home detention (despite the entreaties of the victim and her family). He and his two rugby mates Geoffrey Ruaporo and Kyle Donovan tricked the girl into meeting them in a park where they set upon her. Three beefy blokes ganged up on a pregnant teen in an attempt to cause her to lose the baby.
Somehow the girl and her baby survived the attack – the infant was born four months later.
Metcalf has just signed a two-year contract with the New Zealand Rugby League. He says he’s sorry for what he did. I really hope that’s the case.
But there is something especially disconcerting about arguments used to restore Metcalf to the sporting life. Arguments which come close to violence apologism.
One of Metcalf’s key defenders and outspoken advocates is Celia Lashlie, described as a “social justice advocate and author”.
Lashlie put a case for Metcalf being returned to the game to the NRL in 2005, arguing, basically that we should just all move on.
We can all get caught up in the emotional image of young men booting a young woman in the stomach to cause her to abort her baby, but these were two young people … she got pregnant, he was way out of his depth, and he did a really cruel and dumb thing.
‘He was caught in the moment, and what he did was the equivalent of a young man putting a noose around his neck because his girlfriend tossed him out. He has to be allowed to move forward and put his life together, and I think the ability of the NRL and the Warriors to take this young man in and help him do that is role modelling and something they should get credit for.
Oh no, we wouldn’t want to get caught up in an image of young footballers playing football with the pregnant womb of a 15-year old girl now would we?
Lashlie wants us to be rational about this. Let’s not get overwhelmed by emotion because that would be distracting. The girl “got pregnant” – as girls often so magically do. He was a mere spectator – perhaps it was even her fault for letting it happen?
He was “way out of his depth?” But don’t lots of people find themselves out of our depth and manage to refrain from lashing out in obscenely violent ways?
“The equivalent of putting the noose around his neck”? No, it was the equivalent of putting a noose around her neck – and the neck of her child. Laskie paints the act as some kind of self-punishment. But he wasn’t assaulted. He wasn’t trying to protect the child he was carrying. It wasn’t he who might lose his life.
Note those he invited to the kicking session. Not school friends or family members, but his NRL mates. Because this is what footie mates do for each other, they help out a buddy in need and stomp on whoever needs to be stomped on, even a defenceless girl.
Cruel and dumb? Breaking up by text message is cruel and dumb. Attacking a pregnant girl with your thug mates isn’t dumb. This is not a footballer drunk and disorderly and urinating in public. This is a footballer engaging in a vicious, criminal, callous and pre-meditated act.
Lashlie’s comments trivialises the seriousness of this crime. They are an insult to any woman who has experienced violence. And that is already just too many.