When Curt Schilling’s daughter was sexually threatened on social media by horrendous Twitter trolls following her father’s congratulatory tweet about her admission to Salve Regina University, the World Series Champion wasted little time in going into attack mode.
Just like his playing days, Schilling quickly developed an aggressive strategy and, if he’s right, the result will be the same as so many batters who entered the box against him: The guys who made sexually explicit and aggressive references about Gabby Schilling will be out. In two cases, they already are.
In a telephone interview with USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, Schilling spoke candidly about his initial reaction to the vile tweets. In particular, he focused on two strings of tweets that were sent by two men: A New York Yankees part-time ticket sales employee that Schilling identified through internet search as Sean MacDonald and a DJ at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey identified by Schilling as Adam Nagel. Since Schilling first outed the duo on his personal blog, 38Pitches, Nagel has been suspended from Brookdale Community College and MacDonald has been fired by the Yankees, according to NJ.com. Neither man is using the Twitter account from which they sent the messages to Schilling.
“My first reaction was exactly what any father’s would be,” Schilling said. “My blog was on revision 5,000 by the time I published it. My first reaction was ‘I’m going to get in the car and go kill somebody.’ Remember something: This had everything to do with me and nothing to do with me. None of these people know my daughter. These are people who hate me. I get that. You wish it didn’t happen, but whatever. I certainly expected people to tweet, ‘Can’t wait to go to school with your daughter and can’t wait to date your daughter,’ but then this happened. It went from 0-1000 right away.”
Schilling confirmed that he compiled the sexually malicious tweets that were directed at Gabby, a senior softball pitcher for Medfield High School in suburban Boston, and sent them to relatives and coaches of the Twitter users involved. He found all those contacts himself via simple Internet research, and urged others to do the same if they are similar attacked on social media.
Schilling told USA TODAY Sports that two student athletes who Tweeted vile comments to Gabby and himself have been expelled from their programs while two others have been suspended for their upcoming seasons. Of the undisclosed total number of student athletes who acted inappropriately, two sent letters of apology to Gabby Schilling and two also apologized to Curt Schilling, he said. The student athletes in question ran the gamut of sports, with multiple hockey, soccer and lacrosse athletes, as well as one football player.
“Let me be very clear,” Schilling said. “I tried to give every one of them a chance to walk away and let them look at the tweets and come back and apologize, and instead it got worse. The second thing was, every coach I talked to, I said, ‘Listen, if we’re at the sentencing phase of this, I’d ask for leniency here. I’d rather kill these kids than speak to them, but I’d like to think there is something to fix here.’ But every coach said, ‘No, this is nothing we stand for here.’
“It’s idiotic on their part. I know how hard they had to work to get there. They’re going to use 140 characters and let it cost a $140,000 scholarship.”
While Schilling confirmed that his daughter was handling the incident with remarkable maturity — “My daughter, thank God, has some of my resilience,” he said — he and the family plan to push for full criminal charges to be levied against Nagel, MacDonald and anyone else who tweeted sexual threats directed at Gabby Schilling.
The pitcher took screen shots of every vile message that was sent and has them all on file to be used as evidence in a future trial if needed.
He isn’t about to back down from his belief that no woman should be subjected to the abuse that his teenaged daughter faced, even if there’s no slowing the massive spread of social media involvement in today’s society.
“I’m looking at the legal paths we’d like to go down,” Schilling said. “This is a crime. My daughter is a minor and there are men who threatened her sexually. There are going to be some men who have the word sex offender attached to their name for the rest of their lives.
“Twitter is real life. Twitter, Hulu, Instagram, Vine. All of it. You can say all you want about being an old school parent, but it exists and our kids are going to grow up with it and use it forever. I promise you, I probably have 200,000 people blocked on Twitter. That’s what you do. But not this. This is not the time to turn your back. They’re threatening a minor. A female minor. I linked in the blog to a story where someone turned up at someone’s house. I linked to an explanation of the law that applies here, and then I linked to cyber-bullied kids who committed suicide. I’m a Dad. I have two jobs: To provide and put a roof on my family’s head, and to protect them. If you jeopardize either one of those things, I will find you. You don’t have to have money and be a celebrity to find these people and out these people. I think when more people realize that, maybe that’s when this will change.
“This is not Twitter’s fault or the Internet. That’s like blaming Ford for someone being run over. This is people. None of these people want to be connected to anything they said. There’s a reason for that. Now the goal is, if you’re a young lady and being harassed, first of all it’s against the law. As a young lady and a human, no one, anywhere, ever, is allowed to talk to you that way. Under any circumstances. If you’re a man and you do this, you’re not (a man). Being a man is about having integrity. This isn’t a mistake. This is a malicious attempt to be evil, and if you talk like this you’re a piece of garbage.”