Who is Innocent? And Who is Guilty?

Here’s an update on the alleged sexual assault allegedly attempted on my daughter, Mary by our trusted and beloved neighbor. It allegedly happened while under my direct supervision, just out of sight, under water, in his pool. He allegedly took her hand and firmly pulled it toward his groin area. She alleged he did this three times, She pulled her hand away each time. She reported to me and her counselor, immediately after the incident, and eventually to a detective.

Garden of Youth

Garden of Youth

I had given him a stern warning there would be consequences, after an incident months before, where he asked Mary if she would like to touch his penis. He’d also made a pass at my wife. But he was drunk during these incidents and profusely apologetic. So we tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. I reasoned she would be safe in the pool, under my direct supervision. He had not been drinking; it was right after work. It is clear to me now, in hindsight, I misjudged his resolve. I should have known in the case of a compulsive, pathological pedophiles, they cannot help themselves. Of course, only he and Mary know the truth of what really happened in that pool, just beyond my watchful eye.

As I suspected, it all came down to his word against hers. After several interviews, part of a weeks long investigation, the solicitor (prosecutor) chose to believe him over my daughter. And the case was closed.The solicitor determined there was not sufficient cause to prosecute because he did not actually speak his intentions out loud, in that moment. How could he? I was in direct ear shot. He only moved her hand. Could she have misinterpreted his intentions? We will never know the truth to that question and so many others, because the voice of the child has once again been silenced to protect the status quo. God knows and there are consequences beyond the scope of man’s limited justice. But at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, our society still sides with the accused in most cases of CSA.

We will never know the truth, because the voice of the child has once again been silenced to protect the status quo.

Was this a travesty of justice? Who was standing up for the innocent? Who is truly innocent in this scenario? Who is actually guilty? God surely knows. Of course, I stand behind my daughter one hundred percent, just as I wish my caregivers had stood behind me, so many years ago. After all, how would it serve her to make up something she described in such exact detail? She loved this man. She trusted him. We all did. Evidently, all his kindness and attention was part of his grooming process, going on for months, leading up to the alleged incident.

The Old and the New

Social Ramifications

But it doesn’t end there. In speaking up, Mary has impugned our neighbor’s reputation, undermining the social order. There are very real ramifications resulting from my daughter being brave enough to speaking to me and her counselor about something that was deeply disturbing to her. I told her how brave she was. She understands that by pushing his hand away and speaking up, she was not only asserting her own right to feel safe in our community, she was also protecting other young women, who in the future might not have the wherewithal to stop this predator in his tracks, as she did.

One direct result of her brave action is that our family is now shunned, shut out of the community activities we once enjoyed. Mary is now being characterized as a “troubled little girl.” The members of our community, given the choice between loyalty to their friend and the dark rumblings of a little girl, have chosen to side with their friend. They have discarded my daughter. They have chosen loyalty over truth.

Now, our family no longer exists.

The Fishfly

The Fishfly, a novel

Allow me back up for a moment. We moved to this community four years ago. We loved that we had finally found a neighborhood where the people were not just friendly, but intentional about building a tight-knit, interdependent social network. We would hang out together and share what appeared to be genuine camaraderie. We prepared meals for neighbors who were sick. We looked out for one another’s well being. We supported each other. And we had fun together, on a regular basis. It was something we had never experienced in all our years in South Carolina. In fact, I hadn’t experienced anything like it since I was a kid.

Sadly, we have now been made into the villains for speaking up. The alleged perpetrator is receiving an outpouring of sympathy and support, while our family is literally being ignored by our neighbors.. It is clear they see the alleged perpetrator as the victim of a confused, discredited and vindictive little girl. It’s the same old story that’s been happening for centuries; only the names have changed.

It isn’t fair. But it is the reality, when one chooses to speak out in a society that would rather turn away and pretend things like this don’t really happen to them. Even I was blindsided. Me, with all my advocacy and training in CSA.

A Father's Love

A Father’s Love

And yet we wonder why CSA (Child Sexual Abuse) could still be happening. We wonder how scandals at Penn State, Michigan State or the Catholic Church are still going on. We pretend to be outraged when the stories make the headlines. We ask ourselves, “how can this be allowed to happen?” The problem is it’s always about other people. We think, “this would never happen to me.” Of course, it did happen to me, along with countless others, now including my beautiful, innocent daughter. The difficulty is that it makes us uncomfortable to think about, so we simply ignore it. The problem gets lost among the myriad of pressing issues within our culture. We have learned, for a child to disrupt the delicate social fabric of a community by speaking out, he/she will be ostracized.

Over and over again in our society, the innocent are made into the guilty, just for speaking the truth.

For many children and their families, it isn’t worth the risk. So they choose to remain silent, with no where to turn, leading to depression, self-recrimination and regret. I was wondering if we had progressed since the time of my CSA experience. Clearly we have not. Not one bit.The perpetrators are still protected, even celebrated, and encouraged to continue their incursions against the innocent, unabated. It has been normalized within our culture. Meanwhile the stigma for the abused is perpetuated.

God, I pray for a solution and an end to CSA. Sometimes it seems prayer, is the only recourse we have left.


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