Recently in our community the headlines have featured two stories about pedophiles. The first was a well known and established pediatrician and community leader who was arrested and is awaiting sentencing. The second was a UM pediatric resident who, thanks to the horrible tragedy at Penn State, was fired, arrested and charged with a felony. One of those who came forward at UM (first in March, then again in November) admitted he probably wouldn’t have made a second report without the Penn State case being in the news. He began to wonder if those in authority had made the right decision in the case at the University of Michigan. So he did the right thing and brought the case forward again himself.
The stories have prompted many of us to wonder, is the prevalence of pedophiles among us much more common than we think? It prompted me to remember instances that impacted me as a young girl.
The first happened when I was walking home from the Five and Dime store at five years old. A car pulled up and the man opened the passenger door. He asked the classic question, “Do you want some candy?” I replied, “I already have some,” and ran the one block home as fast as I could. My mother had told me exactly what to do should that situation arise, and luckily for me, I had listened. I doubt I would be here today writing this blog had I gotten into that car.
The next incidents occurred about seven years later. You know the feeling, perhaps? It starts in the pit of your stomach when a man you suspect is a “creep” looks at you in a “creepy” way. For me the feeling began when I entered middle school and spent the night at two other girl’s homes. Their fathers began to notice I had entered puberty in two particular instances. They would stare at my breasts when I was in my pajamas just watching television or getting a snack in the kitchen. Their looks made my skin crawl. I told my mother about it right away as she had advised me early on about these sorts of situations. We made sure that I had appropriate sleep wear and robes.
Then the first situation began to escalate. In this case, the father wanted me to sit in his lap and kiss him goodnight on the lips. I refused. Again, I immediately told my mom and that was the last time I spent the night with that particular friend.
In the second case, the looks continued, but nothing else happened. Then one day the father drove me home along with my friend. We ran off to play in my room. After they left, my mother informed me, he had made a pass at her. I guess he was willing to go with either one of us, mother or daughter. However, at least in my case, nothing ever happened except the looks. I wonder if his wife ever noticed, as she was frequently in the same room when he was leering at me. I certainly would have.
In the first instance, I hope he never took it beyond the creepy request of a kiss goodnight. Today, he would be reported, or be too afraid to ask such questions. Again, I wonder what his wife thought, as she was present. Are the wives in denial? Is it just too horrible for them to believe?
I believe that pedophiles have always been among us. Thankfully today more are reported. Sadly in the Penn State case it was covered up. We all like to think something like this could never happen to our children. If it hadn’t been for the foresight and diligence of my mother, something would have happened to me. Sadly, many times it is the unprotected and innocent in our society who suffer the most, those who don’t have diligent parents looking out for their well being and safety.
One of my favorite films on the subject is Todd Field’s Little Children. In the film two lovelorn spouses and a community come to terms with a registered sex offender in their neighborhood.
Have there been any cases in your community lately? If you are an A2 local, what are your thoughts on our two cases?