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Sport 'NEVER apologized to our son': Letter to Coyotes by mother of draft pick's victim published

06:50  28 october  2020
06:50  28 october  2020 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Arizona Coyotes top 2020 draft pick Mitchell Miller admitted in an Ohio juvenile court to bullying a Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, the victim in this case, told the Republic that he was “stunned and "Mitchell sent a letter to every NHL team acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behavior.

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A day after The Arizona Republic released a sickening report that Coyotes 2020 fourth-round draft pick Mitchell Miller admitted to bullying a Black classmate with developmental disabilities four years ago, The Athletic's Aaron Portzline obtained police records and letters written by Miller and the victim's mother.

"Hello — I’m the mother of the boy that Mitchell Miller bullied," began the letter from Joni Meyer-Crothers to the Coyotes organization days after the draft. "I read the statements made by the GM (Bill Armstrong) etc. and find them demeaning to our son. Are you aware Mitchell NEVER apologized to our son? Are you aware two years ago he still taunted him? Are you aware this went on for years? Do you understand the mental damage Mitchell did to our son?"

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According to both reports, the abuse — which included racial slurs — started when Miller, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and a third student were in second grade in Sylvania, Ohio, and continued into middle school, culminating in 2016 when the two boys got Meyer-Crothers to lick a push-pop that had been rubbed inside a urinal.

"I respect you stating he sent all the NHL teams an apology, but wouldn’t it make sense if he was truly remorseful to send a letter to the kid that he brutally bullied both mentally and physically?" the letter by Meyer-Crothers' mother continued. "Is it a surprise he sent all the NHL teams a letter because this was for his betterment?"

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The Athletic obtained the letter Miller sent to all 31 NHL teams where he stated he "is a different person" and was "thankful to have learned a very painful and valuable lesson." Portzline stated that a few franchises were not convinced he was truly remorseful — something William Hutcheson, the juvenile magistrate who heard Miller's case, told Miller in court and which Joni Meyer-Crothers noted in her letter.

"I guess as an organization and NHL team I would expect so much more and hold them to a higher standard, especially with all the (Black Lives Matter) movement," Joni Meyer-Crothers' letter continued. "As much as we pray Mitchell will eventually see the damage he did to our son, we have seen no remorse. The other gentleman had a sincere apology to our son and our son forgave him. The magistrate said it best: 'Mitchell, I don’t think you are remorseful for what you did more than you are upset for the negative attention you are getting.'

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"Again, the bully incident that continued over years has damaged our son mentally significantly and your organization is more concerned about Mitchell and your hockey success. In my opinion, that is being part of the problem. There is a victim out there that was and still at the hands of your 111th pick."

While the Coyotes organization has not responded to her letter directly and it should be noted that Armstrong was not directly involved in Miller's selection out the University of North Dakota because of an agreement with his former team, the Blues, the Coyotes did issue a statement when the Republic's story came out  Monday.

(North Dakota released a statement to the Grand Forks Herald on Monday from head coach Brad Berry, who stated his program wants to "hone not only his hockey abilities but most importantly, assist him in his continuing growth as a human being which will last him the remainder of his life.")

"Given our priorities on diversity and inclusion, we believe that we are in the best position to guide Mitchell into becoming a leader for this cause and preventing bullying and racism now and in the future," the Coyotes' statement read.

"As an organization, we have made our expectations very clear to him. We are willing to work with Mitchell and put in the time, effort, and energy and provide him with the necessary resources and platform to confront bullying and racism.

"This isn’t a story about excuses or justifications. It’s a story about reflection, growth, and community impact. A true leader finds ways for every person to contribute to the solution. We all need to be a part of the solution."

Those actions remain to be seen.

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