Merced, California. Photography by Laila Bahman

The Teacher. The Basketball Coach. The Dead Rat In the Mail.

Inside the #MeToo crisis—and coverup—sparked at Golden Valley High

Sarah Fuss Kessler
Published in
41 min readJul 25, 2019

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(I) “All This and a Brain, Too”

Annie Delgado was never big on sports-related social gatherings. The only reason the Golden Valley High School teacher had come to the Athletic Hall of Fame dinner for a rival high school was to see her father-in-law inducted for his volunteer support of local teams.

As she crossed the rec building at the county fairgrounds to order her husband a drink, Delgado weaved through tables set with roses and cloth napkins in the school’s colors, Halloween orange and black. The 600 attendees in the crowd that night — March 25, 2017 — were mostly white, mostly affluent residents of Merced, California, a Central Valley farming town located an hour northwest of Fresno.

The $1,000 sponsorship tables up front had been claimed by the Razzari family’s Ford dealership, Elks Lodge 1240, and the other usual suspects. The new Miss Merced County and Miss Merced County’s Outstanding Teen were there, wearing twin white sashes and tiaras. A handful of coaches from the six core campuses of the Merced Union High School District (MUHSD) were also in attendance, still as popular as they’d been as teenagers racking up touchdowns and buzzer beaters.

Delgado had grown up in Merced, back when hers seemed to be the only Hispanic family living north of Highway 99, a boundary that cleaves the town into two economically, ethnically, and often politically disparate parts. After graduating from high school in 1990, Delgado moved to Washington, D.C., where she went to Trinity Washington College (now University) and Catholic University’s law school. She briefly practiced as a civil rights attorney but found she lacked passion for the work. When she moved back to her hometown, she fell in love with teaching the children of Merced, many of them first-generation Americans from the south side, many of whose parents worked on farms, in school cafeterias, or not at all.

In the two decades since, Delgado, now 44, had become one of the few educators in the U.S. who teach women’s studies at the high school level. Her former principal told me that her mix of local credibility and…

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Sarah Fuss Kessler
GEN
Writer for

Writer and editor. GEN, Pacific Standard, Los Angeles magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books…