On Wednesday afternoon, Brenda Tracy stood in front of the University of Nebraska football team and told them the story of the night she was raped.
It was almost 18 years ago when she was gang-raped by four men. Among them, two played for the Oregon State team in 1998. The only thing common between the past team and the present was one man, Coach Mike Riley, whom Tracy hated for 18 years, said The Washington Post.
While talking to his current players, she said to the team that there was a time she despised Riley. She told reporters Wednesday evening that there was a point in her life when she hated him more than her rapists.
The intense hatred came from how he allegedly trivialized her victimization. And now, when she was talking to the Nebraska team, Coach Riley was standing in front of her.
After she was gang-raped, Tracy reported the event to police. She contemplated to kill herself after that, but fortunately, the nurse who gave her a medical examination stopped from doing so.
The four players were arrested at first, but later, all charges were dropped. The players received nothing but a simple one-game suspension. Their coach, Mike Riley, then made a comment about the four men, which shattered everything.
“These are really good guys who made a bad choice,” he had said.
After two decades, while Riley had gone through the horrors of his own statement, he invited her to talk to the team he is now coaching.
“I felt I needed to do something there to send a message,” Riley told Oregon Live. “Maybe I should have done more.”
According to Riley, the talk would be a compelling one. He believes it would be a “real-life talk.” He also said that the talk would be more than just about rape and sexual assault. It would be about how things can change for people in a situation like that.
She believed that Riley’s words, “bad choice,” never made sense. Raping couldn’t be a choice for anybody, like underage drinking or speeding on a freeway and getting a ticket, she said.
When finally, the day came, she boarded the plane to Nebraska to meet Riley and his team. She entered the gigantic athletic building where she would meet Riley. She came up to her and greeted her with a smile.
“Then he hugged me,” Tracy said. “He allowed me to cry on his shoulder for a few minutes.”
After talking for more than two hours, she felt like she had said everything tattooed in her mind for the past 18 years. She asked him the questions that haunted her. They talked about “1,000 different topics.” She believed she had put all of it on the table and left all her burden there.
And most importantly, she said that Riley had answered all her questions. Ultimately, he had apologized.
According to her, Riley knew the gravity of what he did but never dug into her life. He knew what the four players did but didn’t look into the details.
USA Today informed that Tracy believed Riley after the long conversation they had. She knew that there was no deception in this man.
Tracy is now following the footsteps of the woman who saved her from committing suicide. She now works as a nurse while raising her two children.