This Stuff Just Comes Out: Matt Patricia and Luke Heimlich

For both Matt Patricia, the new head coach of the Detroit Lions, and Luke Heimlich, an Oregon State baseball player with amazing talent, the sudden emergence in the media about their alleged sexual misconduct, 22 years and 6 years ago, respectively, the revelations hit hard. For Patricia, the Detroit Newsreported that he, along with another young man, had been indicted for aggravated sexual assault of a woman during their spring break on Padre Island. The victim was “unable to testify” because she could not face the “pressure” of a trial, and the indictment was dismissed. For Heimlich, the allegations, which he denies despite his guilty plea at age 15, involved charges of “child molestation in the first degree” of his young niece. Heimlich was just weeks away from completing all the requirements of his sentence to have his record expunged when The Oregonian ran a full story on the case.

These are the cases that try our souls. These are the cases where enviable athletic talent resides in a person whose pasts, whether true or false, make us uncomfortable.

And then there are the ethical issues, most of which have not been considered in the year of MeToo. What does become of those who have made mistakes? Does it make a difference if they acknowledge their mistakes? Do we sentence them to the life of a pariah? How do the victims cope with success of those who harmed them? The stomach churns, but you can’t help the empathy that swells for both sides. Forgiveness and judgment are not our jobs. Thank goodness. These are the times when we are glad to surrender accountability to a higher authority and let the sports teams grapple with the issues. We leave the NFL franchise, the Oregon State administrators, and the major league baseball teams to make decisions about their future with little guidance from us because no matter which way you turn, it feels wrong and more wrong and then the empathy returns. Oh, why can’t they all be like Joseph Profumo? Go away and devote your life to charity.

Perhaps what we can do is learn from these troubling events in the lives of others. These two lives and the events in them, current and past offer a lesson for all. This stuff just wants out there. The NFL, the Patriots (where Patricia was an assistant coach, and the Detroit Lions say they did not know and the background checks did not bring up the information. Oregon State? Well, Sports Illustrated struggled mightily to find what they knew about Heimlich and when they knew it, but the answers are not clear or forthcoming. Which leaves us with Patricia and Heimlich. They should have gotten all of this out there, take their pain, and get it over with because it is coming out anyway. And “It” has the worst timing. After 22 years for one, just at the peak of an NFL career as a head coach, and weeks before a juvenile record is expunged. Uncannily impossible? No, not when truth wants out there. it will find a way. Perhaps it is the nondisclosure that finds us wondering about their character. We can forgive and forget, but maybe we just want the right to have it on the table, and the earlier the better, and sooner rather than later.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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