Considering that I've chronicled 2,119 hit-and-runs across the country since last January, the stories — to a certain extent — have stopped shocking me. That whole numbing-effect thing.
This is to say that I didn't expect University of Nebraska star volleyball player — and coach's daughter — Lauren Cook to even face a public frown after she drove into a motorcycle with her Toyota 4Runner, suspended license and driving history highlighted by irresponsibility before taking off from the scene.
The rider and passenger weren't killed. Cook eventually called herself in, a product less of the moral reward from taking responsibility for her actions and more that of a shredded tire, it would seem. You can read all about that here.
While not shocking, the fact that Cook was steered toward pretrial diversion for a felony offense did warrant mention in the Omaha World-Herald a couple weeks ago.
Whether Lauren Cook received preferential treatment is up for debate, but there's no question the Husker volleyball player scored a rare opportunity last week when authorities wiped a felony charge from her record.
A review of several thousand Lancaster County pretrial diversion cases since 2009 showed that Cook was the only one accepted into the program on the felony charge of leaving the scene of an injury accident.
Oh nice. Seems like they're going to call out the dynamic of star-athlete entitlement in a collegeville built upon the stilts of it, no? Well, no. Next graf:
During the nearly three-year period, however, the 20-year-old starting setter for the highly ranked Huskers also was the only defendant charged with the offense to apply for diversion.
Translation: It's rare but look, maybe it wasn't about her name at all! Maybe they'd have let anybody with a felony charge expunge it right off their public record if they just took the time to ask!
And here's where the shock comes into play: My hit-and-run vigilantism didn't just inflate this woe-are-we-victims theory in my brain. Michael Miner, Husker fan and Chicago Reader scribe, wrote a piece last week chastising the press for diverting a critical eye from what went down in Nebraska with the coach's somewhat-cute daughter. He used considerably less aggression than I tend to employ, which makes for level-headed reading.
[Tom] Osborne attended Cook's arraignment, and at the news conference afterward, aside from the apology Lauren Cook read, her attorney and Osborne did all the talking. (Her attorney has represented several Husker athletes. "We're happy no charges were filed," he said two years ago, when his client was a football starter in trouble after a fight with his girlfriend, "and we're ready to move forward.")
They announced that Cook had been accepted into a pretrial diversion program involving probation and community service, followed by the expungement of the felony charge of leaving the scene from her record. (Her history of speeding and suspended license somehow went by the legal wayside.)
The dailies in Lincoln and Omaha published articles pointing out that pretrial diversion was a virtually unheard of remedy for a defendant in Cook's legal position. But punditry apparently began and ended with Lange-Kubick's gentle reflections. No one drew the conclusion that in a town like Chicago would be considered perfunctory: something stinks. ... In the classroom, the university's journalism students marveled at the ethical ironies, but the morning papers didn't touch them. ...
Lauren Cook missed one weekend of play while her legal fate was up in the air and Nebraska won both its matches without her. But as soon as she entered pretrial diversion (as opposed to when she completed it), she was good to go, and she was back in action for the big match at highly ranked Purdue. Purdue handed the Huskers their worst beating in more than ten years. Did any reporter have the nerve to either ask John Cook or wonder on his own authority whether Lauren Cook's greased return to action had any impact on team unity? Apparently not.
Like I said, nothing really surprising. (After all, it was merely a "traffic accident" that needed to get "sorted out.") Just like it won't be surprising when Cook wraps daddy's car around the next thing that gets in her way.
Someone should have said, 'This stinks' [Chicago Reader]
Cook in rare company with program [Omaha World-Herald]