I’ve gotten a few messages since writing about Erin Cox, the North Andover High School senior punished by school administrators after driving to a teen drinking party to pick up an intoxicated friend. They suggested that I fell for a fabrication weaved by the girl’s lawyer, that she was in fact drunk and I should be prepared to rewrite my post.
The feedback I received is that the girl was in fact drinking and that it was caught on video. Maybe, someone suggested, the parents and lawyer are trying to change the story so the girl doesn’t lose her scholarships. Maybe, someone else suggested, the girl lied to her parents to avoid punishment, not expecting her parents to hire a lawyer and make a big stir in the media.
If either situation is true, it wouldn’t be the first time someone lied to generate public sympathy. When we hear these stories, we get outraged and then feel like fools when the truth inevitably comes out.
Whatever the case may be, I won’t be rewriting that post.
One reason is that I left open the possibility that the story wasn’t what it appeared to be; you never know what kind of information is revealed in closed-door disciplinary hearings. The other reason is that posts like these are snapshots in time, my reaction to a story as presented in the moment. If I turn out to be wrong, I’m not going to rewrite it and pretend it never happened. I’ll simply write a follow-up. If that follow-up consists of me admitting I was duped, so be it.
For now, I continue to give Erin Cox the benefit of the doubt, because I haven’t seen any evidence that she lied. If a teen at the party has video-recorded proof she was drunk and the video hasn’t come out after a couple weeks, that’s a lot of self-control for a teenager. Videos like that tend to make it onto YouTube in short order. I’m not saying the video doesn’t exist. I’m just skeptical at this point.
Could police be covering for the girl, not wanting to see her scholarships pulled away? It wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened. But I haven’t seen evidence of that, either.
For now, I’m still inclined to believe North Andover School officials went overboard with the punishment.
The truth, whatever it is, always comes out in the end, so we’ll have to wait and see.