The Sexist

Yeardley Love’s Murder Shines Light on Domestic Violence, Alcohol Abuse, and Lacrosse

This week, 22-year-old University of Virginia men's lacrosse player George Huguely was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old women's lacrosse player—and ex-girlfriend—Yeardley Love. As the campus recovers, commentators are busy examining the university's efforts to preventing these types of crimes: Ones involving intimate partner violence, alcohol abuse, and lacrosse.

* The Washington Post examines LAX's alcohol problem:

[Huguely's] lacrosse team has a strict alcohol policy. In 1999, Coach Dom Starsia adopted a rule that allowed players to drink only one night a week, usually Saturdays. A player who broke the rule a single time would be suspended indefinitely. A second offense would result in dismissal from the team.

"Alcohol and lacrosse have gone hand-in-hand since my days at Brown [University] in the 1970s," Starsia told The Washington Post at the time. "Whether it is post-game celebrations or just in general, there was something about the sport and alcohol, and Virginia was no different. I always thought alcohol was an issue here, and it is something we talked about before the season began."

* Also in the Post, Daniel de Vise asks if the tragedy could have been prevented had Huguely's former run-ins with police—including an arrest for threatening in which he threatened to kill a female police officer—been reported to the school:

Following the death of a student, apparently at the hands of another, University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III is asking the obvious questions: what did officials know of George Huguely's past behavior, what should they have known, and might they have somehow prevented the death of Yeardley Love?

Casteen said in a news conference Wednesday that school officials were unaware of Huguely's prior arrest for a drunken and aggressive encounter between the six-foot-two Huguely and a female officer almost a foot shorter in the college town of Lexington, Va. The struggle ended with Huguely Tasered and handcuffed.

In fact, university officials should have known, at least in theory. Huguely should have told them, under a school policy that requires students to report any encounters with police. Huguely evidently didn't follow that policy.

* Vise also suggests that Spodak's alcohol policy may have had unintended consequences:

Some of the measures U-Va. has taken to protect students could have unintended consequences, said Barry Spodak, a national authority on threat assessment. He zeroed in on the decade-old policy that forbids the male lacrosse team, of which Huguely was a member, from drinking more than once a week, with stiff penalties.

Could such a rule have the effect of pushing the drinking underground?

"When formulating rules and policies about student behavior, it's wise to keep in mind whether a proposed policy will inhibit students and staff from reporting worrisome behavior," he said.

* Meanwhile, Christine Brennan for USA Today comes right out and says that "the tragedy could have been prevented," had the UVA Women's Center's proposed anti-violence network been implemented earlier:

Two weeks ago, Claire Kaplan, director of Sexual and Domestic Violence Services at the University of Virginia Women's Center, organized a 2 1/2-hour session for a small group of the school's athletic department staff on a topic that has been vitally important to her for years: the creation of a support network to help student-athletes deal with gender-based violence.

* And Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who doesn't have the best track record with women's issues, said in a statement that he's committed to preventing tragedies like this in the future:

"We are reaching out today to President Casteen to arrange a personal meeting with the Governor. The Governor wants to study and fully consider every possible idea that could help prevent such a senseless crime from taking place in the future. He looks forward to hearing the President's insights and thoughts on the issue."

  • Jenny

    I'm glad that these issues are being discussed and actions are being taken. I am not glad that it takes the murder of an attractive, able-bodied, heterosexual, white, cis-woman for these things to occur.

  • anon

    Writing fact check: The suspect was not arrested previously for threatening to kill a police officer. He was arrested for the class 4 misdemeanor (Va.) relating to public intoxication and profanity.

    Moreover, I'm not sure any such incidence of violence COULD have been prevented, sadly. This is indeed a sad part of life.

  • Joliska

    so now, strict alcohol policies are the cause of violence? There is violence when people are allowed to drink however much they want, and there is violence when people are not allowed to drink much at all. To me, this affirms what I already knew anyway. That perpetrators of violence are violent to begin with. It doesn't have anything to do with how much or how little they were drinking. Is that a defense, that one was not allowed to drink as much as s/he wanted, therefore violence ensues? yeah, no. Think not.

  • Amanda Hess

    @anon thank you! I've updated the post.

    @Joliska I don't think anyone is arguing that strict alcohol policies cause violence, but rather that they discourage people from reporting other crimes that happen while people are drinking, because no one wants to narc on partiers.

  • Eo

    I think its a little dumb to be looking at alcohol policies and lacrosse, its personality disorder and child hood abuse that drives these things.

  • Joliska

    ok, example:
    drinking is only allowed one night a week. But players will most likely break the rules and drink on other nights as well. In this case, if there is a problem, the problem will not be reported because the witness was also at this drinking party and is afraid to get in trouble if they report it.
    Is that what that is saying?
    If so, thanks for bringing that to my attention. I guess I missed it.
    sad either way.

  • Kit-Kat

    According to The Hook, Huguely pleaded guilty to two offenses: public intoxication and resisting arrest.

    It seems obvious that Huguely had problems with alcohol and anger management. How obvious were those problems to others? What did his coaches and other university staff do in response, if anything? It would also help to know what Love told her friends, family, and/or university personnel about Huguely's behavior before and after their breakup. Part of knowing whether something could have been prevented is knowing what the university knew and what they did with that information. Another part is knowing what resources the city and the university have available for people in these situations, and whether students are aware of those resources.

    That said, I think that many students may have the feeling that dating violence is not something that can happen to them. I think that educating college students about date rape has improved light years in the past few decades, even if it's not near ideal, but education about dating violence is completely inadequate.

    Students might also think that excessive alcohol consumption is not a big deal, just part of college life, and not really be aware of all the potential risks. I can't believe that Huguely's friends were not aware of his drinking, but they may have been lulled into ignoring it or minimizing it because of the myth that frequent heavy drinking is normal, that most college kids do it, and that the biggest risk is a bad hangover or some embarrassing stories about you.

  • noodlez




  • kza

    Quick pass her some dick.

  • squirrely girl

    "Casteen said in a news conference Wednesday that school officials were unaware of Huguely’s prior arrest for a drunken and aggressive encounter between the six-foot-two Huguely and a female officer almost a foot shorter in the college town of Lexington, Va. The struggle ended with Huguely Tasered and handcuffed."

    I am happy to see information like this coming out if only to show people that relationship violence isn't a "one time" thing - this person OBVIOUSLY has violent tendencies and there should have been more warning or consequences for this type of behavior.

  • Nora

    Why doesn't society take someone who gets blackout drunk and then verbally assaults a police officer with sexist and racial slurs a serious danger? It's absolutely terrifying that this man bore few consequences for an awful crime. I can't believe that killing a woman is the only thing that will get the law's attention.

    Also: I think Vise's comment is about Starsia's alcohol policy.

  • groggette

    Eo, once again, neuroatypical people are signifigantly more likely to be the victims of violence, not the perpetrators. And someone being abused as a child (and who said this asshole was ever abused in the first place?) gives them license to kill someone else later on? I don't think so.

  • Eo


    Being abused as a child doesnt give license to kill later on.

    Growing up in an abusing home is a predictor for later abuse and other anti social behaviour.

    In our culture we sweep abuse by female under the carpet, given that females do the bulk of the child abuse its reasonable to assume that the females create the bulk of the monsters that are out there.

    So looking to sport and alcohol is a red herring IMO, we need to be looking at all the links in the cycle of abuse and not just focusing on the outcomes and only when they affect females.

    Im just going to post one source on female child abuse..

    "Mothers were more than 17 times more likely than fathers to neglect their children, while fathers were responsible for 85 per cent of sex abuse cases against children.

    Mothers carried out almost 68 per cent of cases of emotional and psychological abuse committed by parents, about 53 per cent of physical abuse and more than 94 per cent of neglect cases".

  • squirrely girl

    I think the links between sport and alcohol or more specifically, alcohol and aggressive adult behavior is important here. I'm certainly not discounting potential childhood issues. But at his age, the better indicators are ADULT behavior not childhood issues.

  • Eo

    Squirrely girl

    Anti-social adult behaviour is rooted in childhood abuse and society and the abuse industry protect female abusers by pretending abuse as gendered, females do most of the child abuse so we are not tapping the source of anti-social behaviour at the root.

  • Susan R

    Teflon Casteen wants to blame others, and his staff cover for him. I would like to ask Casteen and Kaplan, if someone came to you and said he had been arrested for drunk and disorderly in public, what exactly would you have done?? Your comments in this article imply that you would have taken action; please explain.As the mother of a victim of violence on your campus, I know the answer. You would have done nothing. my daughter's rapist raped another coed 6 moths after my daughter reported her rape. He was found guilty by a sexual assault board and not sanctioned. He was allowed to remain on campus and graduate "on time". The trauma he inflicted upon my daughter was unbearable. I contacted you both many times about this -- and again I will say it, you did nothing.So, today you make statements to the press that are politically correct, but your comments ring hollow with every woman who has turned to you for help or been a victim of violence on your campus.For more information, I urge the public to read the UVA rape victims website (you can reach it through the link)

  • Lucy

    How can you differentiate between alcoholism and alcohol abuse?