Government and Politics and Social Issues30 Nov 2011 04:13 pm

I along with many were deeply saddened by the entire situation at Penn. State University. One, of course, feels sorry for any children who have been raped or sexually exploited. Joe Paterno was an icon to many and the possibility that his actions enabled the continued abuse of children is quite disturbing.

Yet, the media led crusade for quick and swift action based on allegations and here say is also quite disturbing. Judgments were made and actions taken before a thorough investigation was conducted. Now, it may turn out that there was a coverup by the university or people associated with the university. Yet, one injustice does not justify another and one from of abuse no matter how vile does not excuse another.

Even before we have any idea of what Mr. Paterno is actually being accused of, he is fired, and his entire career is in jeopardy of being vilified. Did Mr. Paterno fail to follow through on his original report of the allegations to his superiors? Is he being maligned because he didn’t demand that Mr. McQueary go to the police? Is he being accused of a willful coverup of child sex abuse?

Obviously the punishments and censure to be meted out to Mr. Paterno would greatly depend on what exactly he was accused of and found guilty of. Yet, many conclusions have been drawn on the actions and intentions of many including Mr. Parterno before the questions have even had a chance to be investigated or in many circumstances even asked.

We can not do anything to prevent the damage that may have occurred to the children said to be abused, but we do have the ability to make sure that we don’t damage the careers, reputations and lives of people who may or may not have played a role in the abuse of these children. If found guilty the abusers and anyone who abetted or enabled them should be dealt with and serviced by the penal and mental health professions.

I have worked in the field of human services for over 30 years. I have worked directly and supervised staff working with many abused children and their families. I know the damage that can be done, and the difficulties many of the abused face in ever establishing healthy relationships with others. I also know that many who rape and sexually abuse children have been raped and abused themselves when they were children.

The world of sex abuse is not only very sad it is also very complicated. Imprisoning sex offenders seldom prevents them from offending again, and even extended therapy often needs supplementation to insure the continued safety of children. Those who have been abused often need treatment to reduce the likelihood that they themselves will not seek out new abusers or become abusers themselves when they become adults.

Yet, the urgency of the public outrage is indicative of a society that is more into quickly punishing a supposed bad guy than truly solving a problem or helping people become more healthy. I have witnessed many situations in which a rush to judgment regarding legal intervention into sex abuse has in the long run done much more damage than good.

I feel it is also important to point out that the laws and procedures regarding the reporting of sex abuse has changed numerous times over my career. While it is true there are federal laws, there are often important differences in mandates and report procedures from state to state. I mention this because Mr. Paterno’s handling/mishandling of the reporting could have been influenced by the procedures he thought he was supposed to follow. I know of many places where reports of abuse are to be directed to superiors of the agency or to a body such as the department and child and family services and not the police.

I would feel better if the public outrage was based on findings not just innuendo. It would seem less hypocritical if outraged citizens took on the widespread abuse that occurs and has been occurring in our society and by our leaders for generations.

Barely five years ago Mark Foley resigned from congress amidst the mounting evidence that he had made overtures and had sex with underage children. While there appeared to be substantial evidence of emails and instant messages documenting his sexual dialogue with under age boys no criminal prosecution ever occurred. Another red flag was the admission by Foley’s lawyer that Foley himself had been sexually exploited by a priest while he was an altar boy, and a priest admitted to having an intimate relationship with Foley for a couple of years.

Quoting from Wikipedia: As a result of the disclosures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted investigations of the messages to find possible criminal charges.[4] Each ended with no criminal finding. In the case of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the “FDLE conducted as thorough and comprehensive investigation as possible considering Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey with the closure of the case.[5] The House Ethics Committee also conducted an investigation into the response of the House Republican leadership and their staff to possible earlier warnings of Foley’s conduct.[6]

You can see by the above wording that Florida law enforcement intimated that congress obstructed the acquisition of “critical data”. The resistance of congress to properly support or assist any outside investigation of possible sexual misconduct involving children by its members has been the rule rather than the exception. The list of elected governmental officials with a reported tendency towards pedophilia is rather lengthy and stretched through much of our nations history.

Here is another account of a previous scandal during the late eighties. I didn’t include the link mentioned, but you can Google the info and see the newspaper headline.

Another prominent case is that of the Omaha child sex ring run by Larry King a Nebraska businessman and Republican rising star (no association with the radio talk show host) . The sex ring was uncovered in a 1988 FBI investigation of King’s theft of $40 million from the Franklin Credit Union, which he managed. The investigation discovered King had flown children to Washington DC on numerous cases. While in Washington DC, the children allegedly attended parties and provided sex for some of the members of Congress in attendance at these parties. On at least one occasion, the Presidential Limousine was alleged to have been parked outside King’s condo during one of these parties. During testimony in court, one of the children gave accurate details of rooms inside the White House which are not open to the public………Check out the link from the Washington Times front page of 6/29/89 pictured below to see how this story reached into the Reagan White House:

The “Franklin Coverup” resulted in a book by that title and a TV documentary entitled “Conspiracy of Silence” which was inexplicably pulled from its scheduled airing on the Discovery Channel at the last minute. Those interested can see the documentary on line if they so wish.

The point of the last few paragraphs was just to point out that accusations of pedophilia is not foreign to our government and that police involvement has been rare, and prosecution has been even rarer. If we think a possible coverup by a major university is totally unacceptable than we shouldn’t allow our government to bury and ignore the rather substantial evidence of sexual impropriety amongst our elected leaders, and we as voters should not vote for any member of congress who has not done his utmost to expose and assist all outside investigations.

Moving on I think it would be safe to say that rape and sex abuse of any kind an not just pedophilia should not be tolerated. Well, it is sufficiently documented that rape in the military occurs at an astounding level. I will offer up a few quoted examples which could begin your own research into the topic.

According to NPR, “In 2003, a survey of female veterans found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving. And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, found that 90 percent had been sexually harassed.” While an estimated 90% of rapes do not get reported.

And later in the same article.

How the military is dealing with this appears to demonstrate a pattern of sweeping it under the rug. In 2008, 62% of those that were convicted of sexual assault or rape received very lenient punishments such as demotion, suspension, or a written reprimand.

In another article I found:

Military sexual trauma (MST) survivor Susan Avila-Smith is director of the veteran’s advocacy group Women Organizing Women. She has been serving female and scores of male clients in various stages of recovery from MST for 15 years and knows of its devastating effects up close.
“People cannot conceive how badly wounded these people are,” she said, “Of the 3,000 I’ve worked with, only one is employed. Combat trauma is bad enough, but with MST it’s not the enemy, it’s our guys who are doing it. You’re fighting your friends, your peers, people you’ve been told have your back. That betrayal, then the betrayal from the command is, they say, worse than the sexual assault itself.”

Another factoid I found:

In Congressional testimony in the summer of 2008, Lt. Gen. Rochelle, the army chief of personnel, reported the little known statistic that 12 percent (approximately 260) of the 2,200 reported rapes in the military in 2007 were reported by military male victims.

The data regarding our penal system is just as damning as the military. I remember reading several articles documenting the high percentage of rapes amongst woman who are incarcerated and their pointing out that the majority of these rapes were conducted by guards and wardens. Yet, even more surprising was the fact that a majority of rapes of male inmates were performed by guards and wardens and not inmate on inmate.

Yet, despite all the documentation and testimony spanning decades neither the military nor law enforcement has done anything substantial to end or even reduce the sexual abuse occurring. In fact those exposing or reporting the sexual abuse often face harsher consequences than the known perpetrators.

Yet, sex abuse of children is occurs in almost any business or industry catering to or employing children, as evidenced by articles such as the following one.

According to former child star Corey Feldman, child molestation is rampant in the entertainment industry, as he told Nightline in an interview.
“The No. 1 problem in Hollywood was and is and always will be pedophilia,” he said Wednesday. According to Feldman, the “casting couch” exists for children, too.
Feldman asserts that directors and other adults in the industry take advantage of young aspiring actors on a regular basis. “It’s all done under the radar… But it’s the big secret,” the 40-year-old said.

There are a lot of situations in which pedophilia and rape occur in which we are totally unaware or there is little we can do. Yet, when it comes to congress, law enforcement and the military there is enough evidence and sufficient resources where we could make a difference and prevent many men, women and children from being damaged.
All we lack is the will power and conviction to demand a thorough investigation of chronic abuses. We need to keep the focus and public scrutiny constant and we need to make sure that investigations aren’t stonewalled or allowed to die out.

I might add that our government carries out abuses and atrocities throughout the globe which we turn a blind eye to, or even in the case of some forms of torture and execution without trial even glorify. I myself, never forget these facts, and move on. Any politician who supports or even tolerates these abuses domestic and foreign does not deserve or receive my respect. The fact of the matter is that I don’t know of a single elected official who is even remotely dedicated to the stoppage of these abuses. Therefore, it is impossible for me to live up to my principles while not demanding them to live up to their principles.

I’m am waiting and searching for a politician with a shred of decency and the courage to stand up to the abusers. Do you know of any?

Is expecting our leaders to protect our children an unreasonable goal? Is it idealistic to think that we can live in a society whose political, penal and military systems do not tolerate and coverup the sexual abuse of those in their charge?

Is it setting the bar to high to expect basic human decency and respect for human dignity to be the norm, and the minimal standard of what we work toward and tolerate?

If you’re outraged by what may have happened to a few boys at a major university in Pennsylvania, then you may want to go after the perpetrators of all thousands upon thousands of people who are ritualistically abused by our most revered institutions cited above.

If Joe Paterno is guilty of not following through and not doing all he could, then who amongst us is any less guilty. While Mr. Paterno may not have made sure that the police were involved and that the university acted in the best interest of the children, we are all guilty of allowing our politicians, law enforcement, and military leaders to aid and abet in the abuse of thousands if not millions of people throughout our history.
But politicians needn’t worry you’ll vote for someone no matter how corrupt the system.

Jim Guido

PS I apologize for those of you who are offended by this post. My goal was not to blame, but only to begin a dialogue that could actually have an impact on reducing the amount of abuse and damage in modern society. If I was a little harsh it was only because I am haunted by the reality of the problem and am dissatisfied with how it is being addressed by our culture at large.

3 Responses to “Deep Sadness in Happy Valley”

  1. on 14 Dec 2011 at 4:13 am Minh Lanclos

    YEAH!! you are a master of marvelous posts.

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