No excuse for child sexual abuse

Perhaps I should rephrase that title to say, “No excuses for abuse of any kind” but I would like to address sexual abuse this time around in response to the recent controversies and reports surrounding Penn State University.

I confess I was originally drawn to the story because of Joe Paterno, a man whose football teams I’ve followed since I was a kid. But the more I read about this case and others like this the more revolting sexual abuse, particularly the sexual abuse of children is for me as a father.

I am appalled by the predatory nature of people like Jerry Sandusky, who used his position of power and trust at Penn State to lure children into becoming unwilling participants in his repugnant behavior. So far, Sandusky has been accused of sexually abusing seven boys. If you have been following the story you will know by now that Sandusky has been involved in coaching since 1969 and was at one point in his career, touted as a successor to Paterno at Penn State. Sandusky also founded The Second Mile, an organization that started as a group home in 1969 for troubled boys. At the very least, this man may have been taking advantage of children for over four decades and who knows the real number of victims this man now has in his sordid past.

Sandusky is definitely the villain in this story, but I’m also extremely upset and annoyed with those who had eyewitness accounts of at least two assaults that were not acted upon or reported to the proper authorities. In a third case, a mother reported a crime to authorities and the District Attorney decided not to press charges even after police informed the DA that Sandusky had admitted to the abuse. In a fourth case, a school district did not report a sexual assault on a teenager, but instead chose to simply ban Sandusky from the entire school district. In my mind, those who turned a blind eye to Sandusky’s crimes hold some form of culpability because they did not pursue any of these cases to the full extent of the law.

Was everyone afraid of Sandusky? Was Sandusky so untouchable and above the law that no one wanted to follow through with the allegations? Is the line so fine between a witch hunt and a valid case of abuse that no one in that State thought to listen to the victims, their families or those witnesses who were brave enough to come forward with their stories?

And what of Joe Paterno, the administration and his staff at Penn State? Does anyone else find it suspicious that Sandusky retired from Penn State in 1999 at what some may think was the height of his coaching career amid the allegations of his improprieties in 1998?

Forty years! This guy was a predator who had access to young, impressionable and vulnerable children for at least forty years! Those boys suffered then and I can guarantee that they are still suffering today from the emotional and mental abuse of being victimized by someone in whom they had placed their trust.

This case is not the first of its kind and sadly it will not be the last because there are so many more “Sandusky’s” out in the world. I’ve read of at least six cases in the last two weeks committed on Samoan soil where children were been sexually abused. In many of those cases the children were assaulted by members of their own family or by someone with whom they know. So far, only one of those cases has gone to trial, a verdict has been reached and a sentence was issued – four years for assaulting his step-daughter multiple times over a two year span until she finally left home to live with a family member. Four years? I’d call that very lenient in any court or country. As far as I’m concerned it sends a message to other predators out there that you will be out in time to commit the crime again with little more than an admonition and a brief stay in the local prison.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Mine are just thoughts of violence towards another sorry excuse for a human being.

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5 Responses to No excuse for child sexual abuse

  1. Bethany says:

    I was discussing this with a very close friend the other night. He lives in Philly and he was saying how some were criticising Paterno for not going straight to the police, some felt he should be penalised for failing to do so. I understand a grad student approached Paterno and told him he saw Sandusky assaulting a young boy. Paterno notified his managers of what he was told, but did not take the matter further. Now I would have thought his managers would immediately have a duty to track down that student, make a determination, and approach the police at that point. I would have hoped the grad student would have gone to the police directly. Or Paterno. Apparently 2x janitors also witnessed Sandusky. But they felt their jobs were more important than protecting a child (Cowardice. I just dont get people. If you have to choose between your JOB and a CHILD, you choose THE CHILD) It’d be wrong to legally sanction these people for not reporting (floodgates) but these guys have morally failed not only that first young boy, but all of the subsequent victims of this monster. They’ll have to live with that on their conscience forever, and should they forget, Im sure, thanks to the media, the public will remind them of that failure.

    As for sexual abuse in Samoa, I believe so much goes unreported I think due to the status of women & children in Samoan society. It just seems the status quo is that what happens in the home stays in the home & the aiga will deal with it. The horror of what some of our our women go through is settled quietly as if they have no voice and thier experience just didnt matter at all. Being the strong fearsome women we are, we seem to just shrug our shoulders and carry on. Even more so for our boys, abuse against our young men even more suppressed because im sure of the shame of it.

    They say you wont find justice in a courtroom and in this case I have to agree. I think in a culture such as ours, shaming, ifoga, as sentencing tool is more effective and lasting than imprisonment, but I guess mindsets would need to change in order to support that approach to sentencing sex crime in Samoa.

    (Disclaimer: I dont live in Samoa, and can only speak from personal experiences with people who’ve been through this & my experience defending sex crimes for my first 2 years of practice. I really want to see dynamic changes in this area and am wide open to ideas & criticism.)

    • Seti Matua says:

      Yes, in the Sandusky case I just can’t get over the fact that no one thought to go straight to the police. Instead, they left it up to someone else. It appears that the grad student did his best to follow the chain of command, but I wondered if he continued to follow-up when he kept seeing Sandusky walking around campus and attending bowl games, free as a bird.

      As for Samoa, I agree – reported cases are fare below what I know has gone on. There were cases that I knew of that were reported but nothing ever came of it except continued abuse and outright threats not only by the perpetrator but also by the extended family. It is truly a sad state of affairs and I hope that with more people coming forward, this problem is dealt with more harshly than it has been over the years.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This truly sickns me, that people would stand by while children are being abused. How could you live with yourself. It is sad that people use their power and influence over children to get away with abuse. I try and teach my children that it is wrong and not tolerated at all no matter who it is. If anything is to ever happen they need to report it. That no matter what the abuser says they need to tell someone. I know coming forward takes A LOT of courage. Coming from abuse myself I never had the guts to say anything. I figured I must have done something to deserve it. That stuff stays with you forever. May this man be brought to justice and those survivors find peace.

    • Seti Matua says:

      It is infuriating and no one should put their own personal objectives above the safety of a child. I know it’s hard, but people need to be more vocal when dealing with the abuse of children. I am sorry to hear about your own experience with abuse and sincerely hope that you are finding solace in the arms of a loving support system. Thanks for your comments.

  3. THE LONELY GIRL says:

    hi everybody..I really support all your concern of how hardly we’ve come to the fact of accepting abusing of child. Let me said that I am a physical abuse survivor and I have tasted every single physical abuse in my whole life.I am an Islander from the Pacific and I have a lot of problem with sharing to other people about what i have been through. even my own biological father i can’t ask him for that favor “helping”.. thank you all so much for your comments which is a little help for me and my grown life. i can’t tell my brothers too because i loved them so much and as a teenage girl, I do not want my brothers to get upset or put in jailed in this situation because they are the only one who took care of me since now and the only hope I left in my life. i found out in my whole life that if you really believe that there is someone out there who can help you with your situation, He is there for you and you guess. Thats how I found the solution for my problem is to believe in HIM and have faith and knowing that HE always carry that pain together with you when you have it in your life.
    to my advice to all the parents that loved doing this game, you have to spare time for your children and talk to them about how to live a life, because they act like babies to you that doesnt mean they are disobeying.. they have those feeling that you as a daddy and mommy always spoiled him/her.
    they have weaknesses that scared to share with you which are their closest friend in the world and the only people to share with are their friends at school. so you’ve got to ask them how they feel and what they want so that you cangive them the answers of what is wrong and right.
    one greatest solution is to spend time with your children with GOD ALMIGHTY…coming to know HIm personally made you feel peace, love and caring in your heart and so forth..
    YEp….thats all I can said because I wish my father someday want to share with me but He can’t. knowing that life is veryshort that we can not go back and rebuilt and resolve all the bad things we have done in our lives.
    THAT IS MY ONLY WISH RIGHT NOW AND I THINK THIS HOLDS ME BACK THROUGH MY CAREER AND WHAT IM TRYING TO ACHIEVE, because the people that supposed to be with me are not even here (dad& mama)..GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND WE HOPE THAT THIS ISSUE WILL SOON END AND DISAPPEARED…..mwwwahh..LOVE YOU ALL
    from the lonely Girl..

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