Sexual Abuse’s Second Shame BY NICK BRYANT
from: USA Today magazine, January 2012, pps 46-47.
“The reality is that many perpetrators are not shady men in dirty, threadbare trench coats living in seedy hotels, but are, in fact, pillars of our community.”
THE RECENT scandals at Penn State and Syracuse universities, Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School, Fenway Park, and now the Amateur Athletic Union, along with the intimations of possible cover-ups of child sexual abuse, have citizens shocked and outraged. However, these recent allegations only are the latest variations on a theme of abuse by churches and respected organizations like the Boy Scouts.
Pedophilia seems to exist in a distant parallel universe that is antithetical to the universe of Little League, Disneyland, and the other hallmarks of wholesome, youthful Americana, but the current allegations of pedophilia and the possibility of its cover-up just may be waking up Americans to the reality that this universe may not be as distant as they once thought.
I have shared the outrage at the reports of sexual abuse but, unlike most people, I have not been shocked, because of my research over the last decade. Prior to 2002, I had written extensively on children’s issues, and then I stumbled across a 1987 U.S. Customs report on a “child abuse investigation” that that the agency was conducting, and it described child abuse of the most horrific nature.
Two men connected to the investigation had been arrested and charged with multiple counts of child abuse, and six children, whose ages ranged from two to six years old, had been placed in Florida’s child protective services. The investigation ultimately was quashed by Federal authorities (who should not have had jurisdiction in this situation), and the two men were released from jail and the charges dropped. I was stunned by the report, and it triggered my prolonged odyssey into the depths of child trafficking in America….
Many specialists in the field of child sexual abuse have concluded that it is rare for individuals to fabricate accusations of these crimes. In 2002, The New York Tunes interviewed Patrick Schiltz, former associate dean of the University of St Thomas law school in Minnesota and now a Federal judge, who had defended Catholic dioceses against sexual-abuse lawsuits in more than 500 cases. Judge Schiltz expressed the belief that “fewer than 10” of those cases were based on false accusations.
Likewise, I have spoken with scores of men and women who claim to have been sexually abused. I also have concluded that the overwhelming majority are telling the truth and, of all the victims I have interviewed, I am not aware of a single abuser who has been indicted for his or her alleged abuse….
Another factor that dooms many investigations, and abets corrupt ones, is that victims frequently are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the adult luring the child frequently introduces the underage individual to drugs or alcohol, further eroding that victim’s credibility. Moreover, the abuser often has powerful allies in law enforcement, government, and the media, who decide that the sordid details are too hot to handle. Add into the mix the public’s understandable squeamishness toward the entire subject of pedophilia, and we arrive at the perfect recipe for cover-up.
The reality is that many perpetrators are not shady men in dirty, threadbare trench coats living in seedy hotels, but are, in fact, pillars of our community. Until our society addresses these facts and its institutions are willing to face embarrassment, instead of heaping more abuse upon victims, our national shame of rampant child abuse and its cover-up are unlikely to end.
The FRANKLIN SCANDAL is the story of a nationwide pedophile ring that pandered children to a cabal of the rich and powerful. by Nick Bryant