When I first saw the jailhouse mug shot of former Whitley County High School Athletic Director Mike Campbell, I was saddened.
This once-proud man stared blankly into the camera. His eyes look vacant. He appears, to me, defeated.
It’s not a look I’m accustomed to. I can’t pretend to know what he’s going through. But I can empathize.
For those who don’t know, Campbell is currently jailed in Baltimore, MD and has been indicted on assault and sexual assault charges. Personally, I find the accusations difficult to believe having known Mike Campbell for years. That’s just my opinion. Perhaps he’s guilty, but at the very least I think he deserves the same thing all of us would want if we were in his shoes — the presumption of innocence. The benefit of the doubt.
I know I’d want that. You would too.
Allegations of a sexual nature are exceedingly easy to make, particularly against men. Oftentimes, whether someone is found guilty or innocent boils down to a simple case of one person’s word against another. I’ve seen many acquittals and instances of “victims” recanting their accusations in the 18 years I’ve been a reporter at this newspaper.
I covered a story years ago about a truck driver accused of raping the teen daughter of his fiancé. He spent 101 days in jail, lost his house, his truck and any nest egg he’d built up over the years. The girl confessed, on videotape, that she was lying simply to squash his plan to marry her mother. She was never prosecuted. He was ruined.
The case was dismissed, but the damage was done.
Because of a mere accusation, Campbell has already lost his job. Even if he is acquitted and completely exonerated, will he ever get it back? Who knows?
I’d say the financial damage right now is devastating. It’s hard to earn money when you are locked in a jail cell, not even given bail. The bills keep piling up. And the lawyers that defend you … well, they don’t come cheap. Even if he “wins,” he loses. An acquittal in this case will still result in what amounts to probably a $50,000 to $80,000 “fine” paid to expensive defense attorneys.
With the prospect of all that facing me, I’d probably look a bit hollow and defeated in my jail mug shot too.
During my three years as Sports Editor here at the News Journal, I dealt with Mike Campbell on almost a daily basis while he was head coach of the Whitley County High School football team. I never had a negative interaction with him. He was exceedingly helpful and friendly to me when he really didn’t have to be.
I’ve never forgotten that. I won’t ever forget it.
As a coach, he brought Whitley County to football success it had never known previously, or since really. He’s the winningest coach in the history of the program by a large margin.
I think his accomplishments should not be washed under by the most recent accusations.
This man has NO history of any serious criminal offenses.
Yet he can’t get a reasonable bail in order to enjoy a small amount of freedom before trial. That seems a little unfair.
Pictures of Mike Campbell have appeared in this paper twice recently under headlines with words like “rape” and “assault” above them. That can be devastating to a person’s reputation.
The verdict is still out. I’m sure much more will come to light as this case progresses. We don’t have all the facts.
I would never be bold enough to say a person is innocent or guilty of a crime.
No one should be celebrating the ignominious fall of Mike Campbell. Any one of us could easily end up in his position.