Lies in North Andover Teen Drinking Case?

by Bill Brenner on October 18, 2013

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.

Mood music:

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.

Erin Cox

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen October 19, 2013 at 11:12 am

As a high school teacher in Texas, this story is interesting. Upon reading the first article there were many elements which were unclear, as were the three other articles I read on the same subject. Here are my observations:

1. I’m glad I don’t teach in Massachusetts. The connection between what happens out of school versus what happens in school makes teachers and coaches the policemen of children who are not in their control most of the time.

2. The school was verbatim following a policy which governs extracurricular athletics in Massachusetts. And they aren’t backing down, which is odd for a school because typically schools cave under pressure. Lawsuits are expensive and tend to make the institution look really stupid. (And very well might lead to an administrator getting fired.)

3. The family of the girl is espousing many points which aren’t concretely proven. That might be the fault of the media, but it is bothersome to me because these points are consistently unproven.

4. The police officer sent an email confirming she wasn’t drunk. The “summons” (I’m assuming is synonymous for “ticket”) was for “minor in possession”. Those two things are different. The extra curricular athletic policy in Massachusetts doesn’t differentiate between inebriation and possession either.

5. This totally could have happened to me twenty years ago.

6. There’s a video somewhere. In teenage culture everything is on video these days. Who knows what is shows. Probably said video lives in someone’s phone, as opposed to the World Wide Web, because teenagers who film everything realize the power of video, the societal rules of mean girls which governs it and them, and the significance of palpable drama, so such things are often kept very close within the culture, at least in their minds.

7. Notice I said “at least in their minds”. That culture talks constantly and isn’t particularly careful. And if the adults have an ear out, someone got the information, FYIed the boss, the boss now has a copy of the video, and the owner of it will stay anonymous because he/ she is a minor and will be protected, unless a judge “demands” to know who did the filming and wants it shared with all parties. Probably it won’t get that far because once everyone knows there is a video for sure and the school has it, this issue will magically disappear.
And if the girl has enemies, the whole thing now becomes a teenage pilgrimage of “right” and that video was volunteered to the proper authorities. Either way, we won’t know and the story will disappear once all the information is disclosed.

8. I keep hearing about a “lost scholarship”. No article speaks of a lost scholarship. I’m assuming the parent is concerned about the potential for losing an athletic scholarship, which is probably what everything boils down to anyway: money. The reality is this: if the kid is talented, and her grades are good, and she/ HER FAMILY isn’t difficult, the coaches and the school will make it happen. Scholarship athletes make high schools look good. Win/ win for everyone.

9. I hate it when parents talk openly about their children being “emotionally fragile”. True or not, I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to hear their parents say they are weak. Instead, I’d rather have a parent say, “My child is an emotional badass, has strength of character to persevere, and this is wrong and we are fighting because that is what strong people do”, true or not.

10. Honestly, I think we are missing the bigger picture because someone is freaking out about a six-game suspension: underage drinking is a serious problem in the United States. I could go on and on about this, but I’ll save it for my own blog! 🙂

Bill, I love the OCD diaries. I can’t remember how I discovered it, but I love your perspective and although I’m not OCD, I have my own demons and totally identify with much of your discussion often. Keep writing and totally keep the heavy metal theme music. It’s awesome!


BC January 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

As I’ve said before, when have you ever seen a case where the poor victim isn’t by the lawyer’s side telling her story to the media. In this case, you have never seen Erin Cox talk to the media.

Read on…and be afraid of the posts that teenagers write on FB

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