Editorial: Closure and healing

-A A +A
By The Staff

It’s been a long two years, starting with some terrible assaults in a football camp outside of town and culminating, last week, in the sentencing of the leader of the assaults. The disposition of Michael Gallegos’ case, the last of six to have run their course through the judicial system, brings an element of closure. But not completely — parents of the victims have filed suit against current and former school officials, which means court cases and press coverage will continue.

Of course, there will never be a happy ending to this case. The victims and the villains were all kids. Those who were assaulted will always carry the terrible memory of what happened to them, though we hope they can take comfort in the fact that, with time, nightmares tend to fade. Meanwhile, those who perpetuated the assaults will have to carry the burden of their misdeeds for a long time, much longer than their sentences would suggest. Michael Gallegos in particular will have to work hard to keep this from ruining his life forever.

Last week, the courthouse comments from both Gallegos and those who suffered at his hand were searing. Gallegos himself cried out for mercy, saying that he had lost his friends, school, hometown, opportunities and dreams, all because of a “lapse of judgment in two days of my life.” But the words of Judge Mark Macaron give strong indication as to the seriousness of his actions: “Had you been facing adult sanctions, you could be facing 30 years in prison (and) have a record of criminal sexual acts,” he said. Instead, for being the ringleader in the sodomizing of underclassmen with broomsticks, Gallegos got two years in juvenile lockup.

One parent was even more pointed: “Today, my family and I stand here for the sentencing of a rapist. ... I will never forgive you for what you did to my son.”

That’s a heavy burden to carry, for both Gallegos and the parent, and it makes us wish for more healing than that which came last week. But the fact will always remain that some kids were hurt physically and psychologically, and sometimes the pain inflicted on a child can be tougher on the parents than the kids themselves.

As for the larger community of Las Vegas, we can only hope we’ve grown stronger from all this — that we’re more ready to stand firmly against bullying, hazing and other forms of cruelty, and that we’re more supportive of those who are victimized by others. But, honestly, it’s difficult to see any good coming out of this nightmare, except that, in some small way, justice has been served.