Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


He answers without a second of hesitation or a hint of insincerity. "My name is Jerry."
July 11, 2011 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Odessa, Texas, may be best known for its Permian Panthers high school football team. Their 1988 season was chronicled H. G. Bissinger's non-fiction book Friday Night Lights, which in turn inspired a movie and a tv show. But in 2010, it was another Permian Panthers -- the school's lesser-known basketball team -- that received media attention when it came to light that their star point guard, 16-year-old Jerry Joseph, was in fact a twentytwo-year-old man named Guerdwich Montimere. Now Montimere is facing up to twenty years in jail, but not for lying about his age on the basketball court. During his time at Permian High, he had sex with a fifteen-year-old girl.
posted by Georgina (42 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oddly, I would normally assume that "Guerdwich Montimere" is the silly fake name.
posted by Winnemac at 8:02 AM on July 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


...16-year-old Jerry Joseph, was in fact a twentytwo-year-old man named Guerdwich Montimere.

As soon as I read this sentence in the FPP, I knew exactly what the last sentence would be.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:05 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least he'll get to get the hell out of Odessa one way or another.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:13 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clear eyes, full hearts, can't.....what the hell?
posted by Kitteh at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of a great article that appeared in Granta back in the 90s called I Was Brandon Lee:

The story profiles a brazen impostor named Brian MacKinnon, a Scottish man who in 1995 went back and attended his old high school again when he was 32, pretending to be “Brandon Lee,” a Canadian teen who excelled academically, enjoyed extracurriculars and dreamed of being a doctor when he “grew up.”
posted by KokuRyu at 8:14 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, what a tool.
posted by OmieWise at 8:22 AM on July 11, 2011


Did they give him the empty-lot-mailbox address, too?
posted by stroke_count at 8:35 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't say I've ever heard of the Permian Panthers, and in fact the only reason I even know there is an Odessa in Texas (as oppossed to the Ukraine) is because of the cheerleader at Union Wells High School.

Anyway... alleged rape and cheating at sports. Seems like someone missed their chance for some classic Dangerfield antics.
posted by samworm at 8:37 AM on July 11, 2011


When the news first broke, kids at school were vicious. They called the girl a whore. They blamed her for putting the town star in jail. They wore FREE JERRY shirts to school and called at all hours to make horrific threats. Mother and daughter have moved twice in the past year.
Typical.
"We're nice people here," says Roy Garcia, the principal at Odessa's Permian High School. "Good people with good hearts. That's what makes this place what it is."
Yeah, real nice people, as long as you have basketball skills.
posted by muddgirl at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


High school must have been a lot more rewarding for some people.
posted by adipocere at 8:39 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, I've occasionally had fantasies of how I'd do things if I could do high school all over again, the whole Peggy Sue Got Married thing, and especially wishing that I'd not been so scared of asking girls out, but I'd never thought of actually doing it, and not just because of the whole automatic-statutory-rape thing, or even because I'd started losing my hair at twenty-one.

well, maybe a little.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:43 AM on July 11, 2011


Makes me wonder how many times guys like this have flown completely under the radar. If he hadn't gone to that tournament in Arkansas, he'd probably graduated a hero & gotten a college scholarship.
posted by mattbucher at 8:45 AM on July 11, 2011


Typical.
"We're nice people here," says Roy Garcia, the principal at Odessa's Permian High School. "Good people with good hearts. That's what makes this place what it is."
Yeah, real nice people, as long as you have basketball skills.


Reminds me of that case recently with the 11 year old (i believe) girl who was gang raped, then the town came to the defense of the rapists even though it was recorded even.

I tried to watch Friday Night Lights on the advice of a friend, but couldn't bare it for a few minutes even. There is even a show on Current called Forth and Forever that is similar to all this overblown sports adoration. If i had my way, athletes would rarely get scholarships if they didn't have the grades, although even at my small school they gave a LOT of breaks to them. I never trust the grades of any jock really after seeing it happen.
posted by usagizero at 8:47 AM on July 11, 2011


Person with severe social and psychological problems excels at high school, and sees his worst betrayals rewarded again and again with high praise and accolades.

As surprising as this story is, what's scary is how unsurprising it is.
posted by koeselitz at 8:58 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's just get this out of the way: Dead Kennedys, Jock O Rama (lyrics)
posted by benito.strauss at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2011


> Typical.

muddgirl, I tried to keep editorialising out of the FPP, but I had the same reaction. I also found the girl's mother discomfortingly eager to justify an adult man having sex with her daughter.

usagizero, I believe you're thinking of this case, in which an eleven-year-old was raped by at least seventeen boys/men in Houston.

And then of course there's the girl in Silsbee who was slut-shamed and removed from the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer "Put it in" for her attacker. There's a pretty good article about the case at Ms. Magazine: part 1 | 2.
posted by Georgina at 9:08 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, real nice people, as long as you have basketball skills.

They're lucky he didn't fake his way onto the football team, they'd probably be treated even worse. Man, that book was terrifying. Good, but terrifying.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:11 AM on July 11, 2011


I never trust the grades of any jock really after seeing it happen.

Last year, I met and spent a little time with my daughter's Science class study partner, the star shooting guard on their high school's basketball team. I read recently in our local paper that this boy is being heavily recruited by several Div. I basketball programs offering full rides. The article I read mentioned that he's not only an athlete, but an honor student with a 3.7 GPA.

Having met this kid and seen his Science work (much of which was done at my own dining room table), all I can say is that there is no way in hell that kid actually earned a 3.7 on his own. He could barely do basic arithmetic (my daughter spent twenty minutes trying to explain to him what a square root was), and he talked like he had a mouthful of marbles. But here he is, being fought over by the some of the best colleges in the country.

The moral of this story is: schools are willing to overlook a hell of a lot of things when it comes to athletically gifted kids. It doesn't surprise me at all that they'd "not notice" (wink, wink) a "kid" who was actually 5 years older than he said he was, even when there were dozens of screaming red flags that a rational person would have noticed straight away.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:12 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also found the girl's mother discomfortingly eager to justify an adult man having sex with her daughter.

Well, I don't know. I come from a rural-county-seat type town (in California, not Texas) and high school girls having relationships with older men was kind of a fact of life. Most people just looked away and pretended the relationship wasn't sexual.

I don't think this is a justification for any of the actors in this particular drama, but it's definitely understandable to me that a person who grows up in a culture which doesn't object to statutory rape wouldn't, you know, object to statutory rape.
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on July 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think this is a justification for any of the actors in this particular drama, but it's definitely understandable to me that a person who grows up in a culture which doesn't object to statutory rape wouldn't, you know, object to statutory rape.

From the article, her mother had the girl when she herself was 15 and the father was 20. So she probably doesn't even parse 'statutory rape', and sees absolutely nothing wrong with it.
posted by Tknophobia at 9:26 AM on July 11, 2011


Man, reading that piece in Ms that Georgina linked is painful. I remember seeing this and avoiding it, because I knew just how bad it must be. But it's worse.

I know Texas. There are places in Texas I like. There are things about Texas that are not bad. But there are few things that must be worse than growing up in Texas.
posted by koeselitz at 9:27 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


> But there are few things that must be worse than growing up in Texas.

Oh, boo. No doubt you'll get a pile of favorites for that bit of reactionary drivel, but there are are plenty of places in Texas with diverse populations and cosmopolitan outlooks. Granted, Odessa is not yet among them.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:37 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my experience, slut-shaming and sports-worship is a near-universal problem. Texas gets lots of press for it because it's a big state with a lot of rural and semi-rural towns, and because it's own sort of self-worship sets it up for a hard fall whenever something goes wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 9:42 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Adding to what muddgirl said, I am from a small town and just about every one of my female friends in high school had a boyfriend who was 22. Several of them married after high school or college. It also meant their male classmates either had to wait until college to get laid or hooked up with a freshmen their senior year.

It's insanely common in rural America. On the rare occasion when I would hear of a young man getting arrested for this, the public opinion usually was that the teenage girl was a willing partner in the relationship but wanted to go the the cops to get back at him after he broke up with her, or some other lovers' quarrel. Older women were the ones who openly stated this view the most.
posted by riruro at 9:44 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Horselover Phattie: “Oh, boo. No doubt you'll get a pile of favorites for that bit of reactionary drivel, but there are are plenty of places in Texas with diverse populations and cosmopolitan outlooks. Granted, Odessa is not yet among them.”

Look, like I said, I know Texas. I live one state over. I was in Houston less than two months ago, and that was my fourth trip to Texas so far this year. I'm there quite a bit.

Reactionary? Whatever. I see what I see.

But, yes, muddgirl – it's a common problem. Not a Texas problem, except insofar as it happens in Texas – just like it happens everywhere else. I'm sorry for making it sound regional. It's sadly not.
posted by koeselitz at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2011


There is even a show on Current called Forth and Forever that is similar to all this overblown sports adoration.

Just googled for the show and learned all about Back and Forth Forever. ))<>((. Thanks for that.
posted by srboisvert at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


So. I lived in Odessa from 1996-99. I moved there for a job managing the local NPR station and teaching at the community college (which owned the station). So I taught lots of students who graduated from Permian (and Odessa High, their arch rivals). None of this surprises me at all, sadly.

There are, indeed, many nice people in Odessa. But many of them have very clouded judgment when it comes to high school sports. Seriously clouded judgment.

In my three years there I was never able to fully parse why football (and I guess now basketball) was SO. IMPORTANT. to the town(s) in west Texas. I don't know, maybe it's because the landscape is so empty (IMDB says the TV show is filmed in Austin, which is so completely unlike Odessa in geography it's not even funny), people need sports to fill it up.

Or something.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:48 AM on July 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know Texas. There are places in Texas I like. There are things about Texas that are not bad. But there are few things that must be worse than growing up in Texas.

Sort of, yes, but probably not in the way you are implying. Let's try this from a first hand perspective. I grew up in Odessa. My dad was a petroleum chemist for Haliburton. I moved there when I was 2 years old, and stayed there until my father passed away when I was 15 (1987). At the time, Odessa seemed like a normal place. Same normal kids, same cliques I had imagined anywhere else but what did I know. It wasn't until after my dad's funeral, and being whisked away to live with my mom in New Mexico, that the reality of the Permian Panther experience became apparent.

I was there when the Friday Night Lights book was being written. I wandered the long halls of Permian with a small group of my friends, being widely ignored. The thing about West Texas in general is it's not about just sports (which widely get mis-characterized both in the book and movie, and the TV show but for different reasons), it's about excelling at all costs. In every school activity (I was in the Permian choir and honor society), if you were not the absolute best, you were ignored. It was the most competitive place I have ever experienced.

Sure, the athletes typically got all the perks, but so did a ton of other kids...if you went to Permian and excelled. If you went to Odessa High across town, chances were you were going to get stuck in the petroleum world forever and never leave.

I was never particularly jealous of the athletes, because our worlds rarely crossed paths. But I saw too many kids get injured, get sick, whatever, and then get shit on because they couldn't excel. Odessa had/has an inferiority complex. So, I'm not a bit surprised about this story. Any kid that could potentially give Odessa "positive" exposure, is hustled in without a word.

I am damn glad I got out of that place, and got to have a somewhat normal high school experience in New Mexico. I have never wanted to go back, and never will.
posted by Benway at 10:10 AM on July 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


Really fascinating read, thanks.

I tried to watch Friday Night Lights on the advice of a friend, but couldn't bare it for a few minutes even. There is even a show on Current called Forth and Forever that is similar to all this overblown sports adoration.

usagizero, not to derail, but throughout the course of the series' run FNL deals pretty thoroughly with the downside of life in a football-obsessed small American town, both from the perspective of players and non-players. They use the character of the coach's wife in particular to explore some of the issues of academic double standards you discuss. It's a more evenhanded treatment when it all shakes down than the pilot might have you believe.

Sorry, I have a disease where I'll die if I don't talk to every single person in the world about that TV show whether they want to talk to me about it or not. Here's my doctor's note.

More on topic, my father was a high school football coach for many years. Back in '90 or '91 he attended a coaching clinic where he met and drank beer with a couple of the Permian coaches. This was post-book but pre-movie or tv show, and the things they had to say about Bissinger were colorful, to say the least. They felt as though they'd welcomed the writer into their community and shown him how they turned ordinary young men into the best Texas had to offer and he'd repaid their kindnesses with a hatchet job. Nothing in the book had made them step back and go, "Huh"; they thought the whole thing was just slander. They really didn't see anything wrong with the way the school and the town as a whole approached the football team. The reactions to Montimere's unveiling as captured in the article strike me as similarly obtuse, 20-odd years later.
posted by superfluousm at 10:13 AM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I have a disease where I'll die if I don't talk to every single person in the world about that TV show whether they want to talk to me about it or not.

For real, me too. And "overblown sports adoration" is not something the show's perspective necessarily supports.
posted by sweetkid at 10:18 AM on July 11, 2011



It's insanely common in rural America.


It's not uncommon in urban America, either; when I went to high school in Chicago (in a fairly decent middle-class neighborhood) in the late seventies-early eighties, it was something of a mark of honor for the smarter junior and senior girls to date college guys. Of course, now I wonder what caliber of college guy risks getting arrested on a statutory rape charge, given that the age of consent in Illinois is 18.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh, and then I checked and it's actually 17. D'oh!
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:38 AM on July 11, 2011


Oh, boo. No doubt you'll get a pile of favorites for that bit of reactionary drivel, but there are are plenty of places in Texas with diverse populations and cosmopolitan outlooks. Granted, Odessa is not yet among them.

So far, the only favorite is mine and I clicked the little + because my familiarity with Texas and Odessa made koeselitz's frustration resonate with me. There are worse things than growing up in Texas, sure, but it can be a traumatic experience if you're not a very specific kind of person. Space is an issue; in many other US states, the pains of growing up in a poor, rural community are alleviated by being close enough to a cosmopolitan (or cosmopolitan enough) city. You'll have options to escape your surroundings and exposure to points of view outside your town. In Texas, the poor, rural community is all there is for 400 miles and it just drags you down with it.

Anyway, this story is incredibly weird.
posted by byanyothername at 10:56 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl and riruro, thank you for sharing your perspectives on dating and growing up in small towns.

I've been thinking more about why I had such a negative reaction to the mother's comments, and it comes down to the way she's slanting them. So many times in these cases, whether rape or statutory rape, we see boys and men being given a free pass for their behaviour whilst girls are held fully accountable for theirs. More than that, we see girls being blamed for things that are outside their control.

So the mother talks about her daughter's body and how she "developed early in the chest". The mother talks about how they can't go anywhere without men staring. And the mother, who wasn't even in town when her daughter and Montimere first had sex, still tells the reporter that her child was likely the aggressor.

That's downright creepy, if you ask me, but even worse, it sets up a narrative where her daughter is an adult-looking sexual aggressor and Montimere is a "sweet, polite, respectful" guy. This is the same kind of narrative that we see all the time in statutory rape cases. She wanted it. She didn't look underage. Any red-hot male who's offered sex would be stupid to turn it down. And so on.

And that's what hit my "no" button so hard, I think -- when you can't tell the difference between a guy justifying sex with an underage girl and the girl's own mother.
posted by Georgina at 11:19 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Odessa, Midland and San Angelo totally weird me out. I have a lot of friends and family from there, as well as El Paso and some small New Mexico towns and they were all in extremely alcoholic and ridiculously sex charged family situations. You know the dad has sex with all of the moms sisters; the parents hang out with the kids at bars getting trashed and doing coke all the time, violent drunken cowboys waving guns in the air. All of the girls (and possibly the boys) have been violated by family members and random people by the time they reach highschool...(again of the people I know which is only among 30 or 40 so not a statement of percent of the population there). My experiences in those cities have been... insanely crazy. There's dysfunctional families all over the world so I'm sure there are nice people in all of those cities and I just don't know them.

But pretty much a huge amount of people from there run away to Austin. Maybe the people who run away to Austin are the ones who were experiencing the worst conditions there and the people with decent lives are happy to stay there, so I don't know them.

You don't want to get into a fight with a west texas cowboy, that's all I know. Unlike in Austin, when those dudes say something racist I swallow my own integrity and say nothing and inwardly vomit over my own cowardice in the face of a drunken cowboy with a loaded pistol.

One of my family members from there (actually a number of family memers) expect me to "just accept" that this family member had sex with 15 year olds into his 50's!!!!!!!! Because "some 15 year old girls are just into that".

Right. Fifteen year old girls who were violated already when they were even younger because otherwise a fifty year old dudes penis is going to hurt like hell.

Excuse me while I vomit some more.

I imagine there's sort of a dichotomy between the drunken bar going folk and the church going folk with some amount of overlap. I imagine there's sort of two parallel social cultures in that regard... maybe. Ugh. Much support to any of you who've done time there and were in the kind of situations I've seen go on there.

What particularly bugs me is that the pregnancy rate for 15 year old girls with guys aged out of highschool is ridiculously higher than for highschool girls having sex with other highschool aged guys. You would think that these guys being older would be MORE responsable about that, but instead they use their age to work the no condoms/no birth control angle. "Oh I'm infertile. Oh I'll be there for you if you get pregnant. Don't worry. "

Right. Then you have a 15/16 year old dealing with feeling exploited AND having to deal with a pregnancy and whatever outcome you choose, for a lot of young girls it can be extremely painful. And the guy walks off and finds another. There's also a lot of research about the amount of pressure used on very young girls and when you ask them "was there coercion" they might say no, but if you ask about degree of wantedness on a scale of 1 to 10, you find the younger the girl and th eolder the guy the lower the numbers picked. Rar.

So when people say "Whatever some 15 year olds are just into older guys" what exactly is that based on? I think that happens, but more often it's the reverse. Some guys are just into 15 year olds and know how to work the age difference to their advantage --- i.e. you don't have to do anything, the advantage is already there.
posted by xarnop at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I have a disease where I'll die if I don't talk to every single person in the world about that TV show whether they want to talk to me about it or not.

For real, me too. And "overblown sports adoration" is not something the show's perspective necessarily supports.


Me too, too. Any time anybody asks me about a good new show to pick up and watch, FNL is the first show I recommend. And the first thing I say to them is "It's about a high school football team, but it's not about football. Not really". Easily one of my fave shows of the last decade.
posted by antifuse at 11:47 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jerry Joseph was a basketball dream: six feet five and built like LeBron.

When LeBron James was 16 and already nationally known, he could have passed for 24.

Funny that they compare him to LeBron, because I still think that one day we'll all find out that LeBron IS actually 5-8 years older than he's been claiming.
posted by KillaSeal at 11:54 AM on July 11, 2011


I keep thinking, "man, why would you want to REDO high school?!" Then again, if that was his best time ever...and the dude apparently seems to still feel like a teenager... and hell, he still calls himself Jerry...

Oh, I don't know. The whole thing is just sad.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:00 PM on July 11, 2011


Well, thank goodness that it's only small towns in Texas and eastern New Mexico which have families which are alcohol and drug-fuelled pits of sexual dysfunction. Goodness knows, nothing like that EVER happens in proper places to live like New York City or Los Angeles. *whew*

/sarcasm

Anyway, I thought that the main claim to fame for Odessa was that it has a full-scale reproduction of the Globe Theater and they regularly do Shakespeare there.
posted by hippybear at 6:36 PM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well a town weirding me out is not exactly meant to be scientific data proving it should weird any one else out. : )

Obviously there are awesome and yucky things about every town every where, and each of us as individuals can have completely different experiences all in the same towns.

I'm not mad at Odessa-- I AM mad at cultures everywhere (of which there are tons all over the place across the world) that value using young girls without acknowledging the kind of vulnerability present there and then blaming her for it after wards or sticking her with the blame for a pregnancy or STD, whereas the guy was just some nice guy, being a guy.

This happened to have happened in Odessa, a place where I know a LOT of people who have been treated that way so excuse the grar, it was meant to be personal and not a scientific assesment of how Odessa may compare to other places.

It is absolutely certain that it happens everywhere and the problem is not Odessa, but cultures that promote it.
posted by xarnop at 9:26 PM on July 11, 2011


"the problem is not Odessa, but cultures that promote treating young girls in this way, and excusing the men for it."

maybe that's better.
posted by xarnop at 9:29 PM on July 11, 2011


I traveled to Silsbee, Texas five times in the past six months, with conservative blogger Brandon Darby, to investigate why, despite the volume of evidence, a grand jury did not indict two football players accused of raping a high school cheerleader (who was later kicked off the squad for refusing to cheer for one of them).
I had heard about the Supreme Court case but did not know the details behind disappointing "open and shut" criminal case.
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on July 12, 2011


« Older How I Went Undercover at Bachmann's Clinic:...  |  Unlikely encounters between fa... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments