Jack Raymond - Has Miles City learned nothing?
Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6066) 6 days ago
This is a letter to the Miles City Star I submitted on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 in response to the front page tribute for the deceased former CCDHS teacher and wrestling coach Jack Raymond that ran on the preceding Friday:

“Remember Raymond for everything he was”

This in response to the tribute for former CCDHS teacher and wrestling coach Jack Raymond that was printed in the Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 edition of the Star.

Raymond may be, in fact, the most accomplished and credentialed wrestling coach Miles City has ever had. Indeed, he may be “remembered as a great mentor, friend, father and husband.” He very well may have “touched a lot of people’s hearts with everything he did,” or “got the most out of you” by showing “tough love,” as was stated in the well-written story about him on Friday.

As accurate as those very positive things may be, here’s what else Raymond was: a child-rape enabler, a sadist, and ultimately, a coward. All of these are equally true and just as worthy of inclusion in the remembrance of that man’s life, if not more so.

By the early 1990s, Raymond was a person obsessed with beating Sidney, which had ascended to the top of Class A wrestling in Montana, a height from which Cowboy Wrestling had fallen since the mid-1980s. To that end, Raymond had “Sidney Scares Me” t-shirts printed for his team, seemingly as a way of using shame as a motivational tool. If that was the extent of his competitive drive, it could be dismissed as funny. If only that were the case.

Ostensibly to be more competitive with Sidney, Raymond had (now-deceased) team physician Dr. Lew Vadheim certify wrestlers well under – sometimes two or three weight classes below – the legal limit. This effectively forced countless wrestlers into bulimia. The extent to which children were made to savage themselves to be able to make an impossible weight and compete was grotesque and permanently damaging to some – who were then mocked at the end of each season with what Raymond called the “Fat Pig Banquet.”

Even worse, Raymond required his wrestlers to get treatment from James “Doc” Jensen after every practice, every match, and every meet. These “rub-downs,” as they were commonly called, were mandatory. He made sure his assistant coach, Kevin McAuliffe, enforced this policy, which effectively fed children to a child rapist.

Raymond and McAuliffe both knew Jensen wasn’t conducting himself appropriately. They simply chose not to care. Raymond disregarded the complaints they received from the wrestlers who didn’t want to be subjected to Jensen’s “treatment,” in or out of “The Program.” Jensen was allowed to prey upon his victims unchecked – directly in front of them.

Quite simply, the sustained abuse that Jensen inflicted on dozens – if not hundreds – of boys during his years as the unqualified and unvetted “athletic trainer” at CCDHS – would not have been possible to the extent that they were if not for the complicity of Raymond (and McAuliffe, who is still coaching and counseling at CCDHS).

Raymond never apologized to the countless then-children, now-men he hurt and allowed to be hurt. He was never made to. He got off easy. He was largely forgiven, due to his inability – and unwillingness – to remember. But there can be no true forgiveness without real accountability, say nothing of actual contrition. At a minimum, he should be recalled for all of who and what he was: a teacher, a coach, a mentor … and a child rape-enabler, a sadist, and a coward.

There will never be – and there must never be – another Jack Raymond.

Brian Reed
Billings, MT

Note: Brian Reed is a 1995 graduate of CCDHS and a former sports editor of the Star. He is also one of the plaintiffs in the successful 2018 lawsuit against James ‘Doc’ Jensen and the Miles City Unified School District.


...

My intention was for the letter to be run in the Star on Thursday or Friday so that the people visiting Miles City for the Cowboy Invitational would be able to read it and discuss its contents amongst themselves.

This did not happen.

I was told yesterday by the publisher of the Star, Andy Prutsok, that the letter, as written, would require changes in order to be run in the paper. He stated that he had consulted with the Star's legal counsel and asked that references to Kevin McAuliffe be removed from the letter. Prutsok also intimated that the tone of my letter be softened since Raymond was a "well-liked person in town."

I complied with his request to omit McAuliffe's name, but I did not tone down the letter, as I felt I was already holding back considerably. I did not hear back from Prutsok after I made the changes and only found out second-hand that the letter would not run this week after it was too late to make the Friday paper. I had already felt that Prutsok was intentionally stalling, and this all but confirmed it.

I read somewhere that "when good community journalism dwindles, so does government accountability," and I truly believe that applies to responsibility in all venues, including schools, municipalities, and the newspapers that cover them.

Unfortunately, the person who wrote that three years ago for The Daily Yonder doesn't really seem to believe his own words, at least when it comes to weighing his publication's duty to the people of the community against any imagined legal troubles that might arise from actually doing the right thing.

...

Adding insult to injury was the discovery today that current CCDHS wrestling coach Mike Etchemendy will be renaming the Cowboy Invitational's Outstanding Wrestler Award after Raymond.

Either he has a very selective memory, or Etchemendy is even more dedicated to emulating Raymond than anyone should choose to be.

The last person anything should be named after is Jack Raymond. The last person anyone should aspire to be is Jack Raymond. And yet, here's Mike Etchemendy arrogantly following in his hero's footsteps.

Will he have the same philosophy - and utter lack of morality - when it comes to things like weight certification as his role model did? It's a question worth asking, especially if you're entrusting your child's health and safety to him.

At any rate, he should be fully aware of why Raymond was fired 20 years ago and steer clear of any emulation of that man. Alas.

So, Mike, I have to ask you this: If someone proposed awarding the "Kills On Top Trophy" to the outstanding athlete of a tournament, how would YOU feel? If someone wanted you to observe a moment of silence for Diane Bull Coming, would you remain quiet? Your hero was no better of a person than they were, but least they were held accountable for their terrible actions.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+12
Posted by Frank Burns (+333) 6 days ago
How do you really feel, Brian? Don't hold anything back.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
-2
Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6066) 6 days ago
I held back, believe me.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+3
supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17479) 6 days ago
As a 1979 grad, who never wrestled, but knew the coaching program, I totally believe Brian. That wrestling program under Jack Raymond was just creepy. Those wrestlers constantly starving themselves, I never got it. And until the story came out in the papers a few years ago, I never had heard of the trainer molestor.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+7
supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine (+14969) 6 days ago
I want to highly commend Mr. Reed for his efforts in exposing a dark generational issue in Miles City. He has done more to shine the light of righteousness than all of the so-call christians and their churches. MC churches appear to be more comfortable in hiding behind their beads and bibles than in calling for accountability and helping to heal the actions of "Doc" or should I say "Quack" Jensen and his enablers Jack Raymond and Kevin McAuliffe.

Healing happens only when the enablers and the community decide to come clean and admit what happened, reconcile the wrong doing, endeavor to be better people in the future. Miles City seems comfortable in burying its shame. Jensen got his start in MC at Sacred Heart. Will there ever be an acknowledgment from the parish? Probably not, as most who know have taken their secret to the grave. Thank you, Brian, for at least trying to illuminate an issue that has haunted and harmed so many people.

Jack Raymond was no hero. He was an enabler of horrible behavior. He does not deserve any recognition. On top of the many horrible things he did, he was jerk who was always blocking my ex-mother-in-laws driveway. Not a hero.

I also want to condemn the cowardliness of Miles City Star Publisher Andy Prutsok for not publishing Mr. Reed's letter in the Star. That section of the newspaper is called "Letters to the Editor" not "Words the Editor wants to put in my mouth". Brain says exactly what needs to be said. Interestingly Mr. Prutsok, in The Daily Yonder, once wrote,

"People generally don’t hold the media in high regard, and often not without good reason. What plays out on cable TV and on social media is not news, but often little more than gasbag punditry and trolling, along with some additional disinformation thrown in for good measure. News is the result of the work of a trained and skilled reporter who is present at events, talks to participants and puts in the necessary shoe leather to tie off loose ends and confirm what they’ve been told".

https://dailyyonder.com/s...019/05/03/

Apparently, Mr. Prutsok no longer believes what he wrote and himself has decided to engage in "gasbag punditry" rather than "putting in the necessary shoe leather to tie off the loose ends" with the matter of "Quack" Jensen and his enablers. I call on Mr. Prutsok to do better. Stop hiding behind "legal counsel" and publish Mr. Reed's excellently crafted letter, exactly as he wrote it.

And finally, Miles City needs to come to grips with the issue of human sexuality. It needs to abandon the prudish "nice people don't talk about such things" mentality and build a healthier response.

There is such confusion around this issue. On one hand there is a history of places like the Texas Club, Tongue River Clinc, and the Wildhorse Saloon. On the other hand there is a community full of churches who's idea of addressing sexuality is showing some Dr. James Dobson movie and his screwed up view of the world. Neither approach is healthy.

The end result is a town full of people full of shame where human sexuality is concerned. And because we can't/won't hold an honest discussion about the issue, we end up with harmful people like "Quack" Jensen doing his thing. Miles City is a town full of males who simply don't have the emotional capacity to have a healthy conversion about sexuality, because of what's happened to them in the past.

It really needs to change. I have little hope it will.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+8
founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+11796) 3 days ago
Problem is, most folks knew the folksy Jack Raymond, not the abusive one. I definitely think naming a trophy after anyone who was around during the Jensen years is a HUGE mistake.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+4
Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6066) 3 days ago
Vince Gundlach was there when this all happened with Jensen and Jack Raymond. As a basketball coach, he used to laugh when his players - looking at you, Kevin Wlcox - mocked the wrestling team for being "fags." (And Gundlach wasn't laughing at the puerile humor of a punk like Wilcox; he knew full well why the aforementioned punk was making the aforementioned intended insult). As an administrator during the time of the lawsuit, he is aware of what transpired during the proceedings. Now a principal, he had ample opportunity to put the kibosh on Mike Etchemendy's rock-brained idea to lionize a child rape-enabler and sadist ... and chose not to. It's not that people didn't know that Raymond was a horrible human being, it's that they chose not to care.

And continue not to care.

The reason that people only remember the "folksy" Jack Raymond is because they only want to remember that version of him. And that will continue to be perfectly acceptable if they're allowed to do so. I'm not so keen on that happening.

The plaintiffs decided to take it easy and let up as to not "harm the people of Miles City." I was confused why we should spare a town that hasn't really cared about any of us, but I went along in the spirit of solidarity. Nothing that has happened since the good people of Miles City were spared - not Jensen's daughter being hired as superintendent, not the continued employment of Kevin McAuliffe as lead counselor and assistant football coach at CCDHS, not the sympathy extended toward poor, brain-addled Raymond, not the re-election of Fred Procreateing Anderson to the state legislature in Great Falls, not a single damn thing - has done a damn thing to convince me that the decision we made to let our collective foot off of Miles City's collective throat was a good idea.

The events of this last couple of weeks have been the final straw for me.

It sure would be swell if the good people of Miles City were more concerned about finally doing the right damn thing than choosing to be as forgetful as Raymond was in his final years. At least he had a plausible excuse.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+4
Posted by Mike Etchemendy (+76) 3 days ago
Brain Reed said “So, Mike, I have to ask you this: If someone proposed awarding the "Kills On Top Trophy" to the outstanding athlete of a tournament, how would YOU feel? If someone wanted you to observe a moment of silence for Diane Bull Coming, would you remain quiet? Your hero was no better of a person than they were, but least they were held accountable for their terrible actions.”

Not a problem with this at all. I have forgiven all of them, Lester, Vern and Diane. I would remain quiet at a moment of silence. The Kills on Tops were held accountable and so was Jim.

Vern Kills On Top died about 4 weeks after being eligible for parole. He had served 33 years in prison and I felt sorry for him and his family. I’m sure his family and friends are good people that loved him and I have no ill feelings towards those people.

Brian you seem very bitter, I pray someday you find some peace. I know it took me many years and wish that I had done it sooner. Going over to Auschwitz with Eva Kor really helped me out. If you need any help don’t hesitate to get a hold of me Brian.

[Edited by Mike Etchemendy (1/17/2022 9:19:20 PM)]
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+2
Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6066) 3 days ago
Mike. I will say this once. Don't ever - and I mean *ever* - patronize me again. Do NOT try to minimize someone else's trauma with a Holocaust reference. It's a disgusting and transparent tactic. Who the procreate do you think you are?

Mike, you do not want to talk to me. You don't want to meet me. You don't want to have anything to do with me.

Of course I am bitter. Your procreateing hero made my friends sick and drove a few of them to the verge of suicide. Your procreateing hero enabled a child rapist. Jensen DOES NOT HAPPEN without the help of your procreateing hero.

And the only reckoning your procreateing hero ever got was to have his brain rot on him. I hope it hurt. I only wish it was still hurting him.

No one tried to make heroes out of the Kills On Tops because no one was so procreateing arrogant to think that would ever fly. But then again, no one was quite as full of themselves or as goddamn holier-than-thou as you are. No one would have been so stupid as to make a Kills On Top award. And yet, here you are doing that for your procreateing hero.

I do not care what bullpoop you have to sell regarding forgiveness or manly-man manliness or silly-assed beard maintenance. I don't care what you have done to find peace in your ridiculous little life. You pray to the same god as your procreateing hero so don't dare to reference that ridiculous cosmic get-out-of-accountability-free-card to me. It does you no favors; all it does is give me reason to point and laugh.

But if you want to more than just sell yourself as some sort of paragon of masculinity and forgiveness and male superiority and actually prove it, why don't you let your actions speak for themselves and rectify a wrong? Want to take the high road and impress everyone with your graciousness? Drop that child rape-enabling son of a bitch's name from the Outstanding Wrestler award.

Because unless you do that, nothing you say is worth more than the piss I am saving for your procreateing hero's grave.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+1
Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6066) 3 days ago
Ha! I had forgotten that this forum changes procreate to 'procreate' and poop to "poop." It's been awhile.

Good times, good times.

[Edited by Brian A. Reed (1/17/2022 10:19:39 PM)]
Top
Posted by Mike Etchemendy (+76) 3 days ago
Brian, I wasn’t trying to patronize you and didn’t mean to upset you. I do truly hope you find some peace in your past.
Top
Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6066) 3 days ago
Oh please. Yes you were, Mike. Both of us know you were. People don't say "you seem bitter" unless they are. And as bitter as I admittedly am, I have been nothing but sincere with you, so the very least you can do is return the same courtesy. My bitterness is not the problem here, so don't bother acting as though it is or that it is unjustified.

You seem to think that Jensen was the only wrongdoer. He certainly wasn't. He might have been the worst, but he didn't happen in a vacuum. He was enabled. He was protected. He was fed. But at least he is now exactly where he needs to be.

Unfortunately, his enablers - primarily your hero - never faced consequences for their actions and inaction, and *that* remains a gigantic problem. There is no forgiveness - say nothing of healing - without accountability and contrition. Until that happens, and so long as there are people who would rather be pompous jackasses and/or play dumb, I will remain bitter.

But if you truly mean what you say about wanting me to find peace - and here's an excellent chance for you to prove me wrong - a good place to start would be to stop being so callous by honoring monsters as though they were saints. That man doesn't deserve to have an award named after him. You insult everyone he hurt and allowed to be hurt and you make a mockery out of a program you claim to honor.

I have to ask: why would you do that? What is it about *doing* the right thing - not just *saying* some trite pretentious dreck - that scares you so much?
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+1
supporter
Posted by Bridgier (+9222) 3 days ago
I'm coming a little late to this party, but while I might have used different language then Brian, I will say that 1990's Jack Raymond was a pretty sub-par coach, even setting aside his involvement in the child-rape factory that had attached itself to Miles City Athletics at the time. Mr. Etchemendy wasn't there during the bad years, where the team struggled to place anyone at state because all of the kids who SHOULD have been state champions were no longer participating in Miles City Wrestling. We had 40+ freshmen come out in the fall of 1989, fresh off of a run of 3 state titles. 4 years later, there were 2 of us. And there's lots of reasons WHY all those kids quit - wrestling's a tough sport, and it's not for everyone - but a large part of it boils down to a toxic, abusive culture that prioritized short term gains over the health of children placed in its care. I tell people the story about the day I cut 10 lbs to make a new weight class and how I spent the rest of the season cycling between making on Friday and being 13 lbs over again by Monday. It's a great story, I guess, and I ended up winning the fat pig that year for putting 20+ pounds back on afterwards, but it's a story about abuse, and there's no way around that.

The day that a wrestler walked off the mat and went into cardiac arrest because he'd cut weight from 125 down to 112 should have been the day Jack Raymond was fired.

The day that Jack Raymond broke his finger on a wrestlers chest, should have been the day that Jack Raymond was fired.

The day that Jack Raymond shoved a wrestler across the locker room because that wrestler had been disqualified for stalling at the end of a match, was the day that Jack Raymond should have been fired.

When Mr. Etchemendy and his generation were wrestling for Jack Raymond, they were winning state titles and having success, and that lets them look back through rose-colored glasses, and ignore the less savory parts of his tenure. We didn't have that kind of success to get us through the lean times.

For some of us, we managed to escape with some "funny" anecdotes and mild eating disorders. Some people were handed over to a procreateing child molester, and everyone who knew better turned a blind eye. Three state titles 40 years ago shouldn't buy that much goodwill.

[Edited by Bridgier (1/18/2022 2:27:27 PM)]
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+10
supporter
sponsor
Posted by Hannah Nash (+2530) 3 days ago
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Unknown source; typically attributed to Edmund Burke

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
- Desmond Tutu

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
- Elie Wiesel

Americans, Montanans, Miles City folks ... we disagree a lot. We take sides, we debate. On the topics of youth abuse and sexual assault I had always thought that regardless of politics, religion, sports team preference, etc, we generally agreed upon some basics in life. One of those basics being child abuse.

But when faced with a real-world, honest-to-god tragic and horrific occurrence(s) of abuse right on our doorstep, it appears that we don't agree.

Abusers do not live on islands.
Abusers are not single man/single woman operations.
Abusers do not exist in a vacuum.

In order for Jensen to perpetuate his abuse for THAT LONG, a system must be in place; a system that he manipulated and controlled. But it was a system comprised of many adults and bureaucracies that allowed his evil to exist for years. I want to believe deep in my heart that the adults that surrounded Jensen didn't know the full extent of his abuse; because I believe that we are mostly inherently good people.

But too often through those years, the adults around Jensen chose not to take complaints seriously, chose to not look further into troubling reports, chose not to remove him/investigate/lift a finger. I can understand how most people gave up trying to report him or make changes after their complaints reached the Superintendent's office and were pretty much dismissed and blown off.

Was winning too important and it was far easier to brush these concerns under the rug?
Was it too hard to buck the system?
Did the coaches and other leaders think stuff like this doesn't happen in Small Town USA (tm)?

We now know the truth. Thanks to the brave plaintiffs who refused to stay silent any longer, the abuse and the abuser was dragged into the light.

We know better and now it is on us, all of us, to do better.
And doing better means we don't venerate or revere abusers. And we don't elevate the folks who enabled the abuse. We will never know if Jack Raymond knew the full extent of what was going on, but we do know that enough people made complaints to him, and enough facts were present in the depositions proving that the abuse machine was propped up by coaches and staff, consciously or unconsciously.

Naming an award after someone who was a part of this machine, this horrific chunk of Miles City's past, is gross. To be honest, those who suggested it while knowingly turning a blind eye to the stain of this abuser, should feel shame for their blindness and callousness. What a slap in the face to those who exposed these heinous crimes.

Miles City should do better. We should learn from our past mistakes and agree that youth safety is our priority. There should be no silence regarding abusers here, no quarter given to those who would harm our youth, no safe refuge for those who are in positions to STOP abuse. In our past we chose to do nothing, we chose the side of the oppressor.

Now that we know better, we should not be neutral: and the side of the child/youth is where we all should find ourselves, regardless of politics/religion/status/history. It is not too late for Miles City to do the work and to demonstrate that we've learned from our mistakes.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+16
supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17479) 2 days ago
Let's put it this way. CCHS naming an award after Jack Raymond would be like Penn State naming an award after Joe Paterno.
permalink   ·  vote tally
Top
+3