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Friday, June 22, 2012

Feeling sad

There's a post at dotCommonweal about the guilty verdict for Monsignor Lynn. In it, the author writes "Many will be elated that Monsignor William Lynn has been found guilty of one count of child endangerment. I’m not. It’s a sad day for Lynn, and for the church."

I don't feel sad about Lynn or the church, I feel sad about the victims, and something I read today about a different sex abuse trial shows how sad the lives of some of those victims can be. Here's a bit from Amy Davidson's post at the New Yorker about Matt Sandusky, the adopted son of Jerry Sandusky ....

[...] The story of how Matt ended up in the Sandusky house—laid out in detail by Sara Ganim, of the Patriot-News—sounds more like a tragedy than a soap opera, or, given how many warning signs seem to have been missed, a cautionary tale. The boy started a fire that burned down a barn; Sandusky, who knew him and had spent time with him through Second Mile, asked the juvenile court that Matt be sent to live with him. Did Sandusky consider that a boy who had done that might not be believed if he turned to other adults for help? His mother, who was on her own with three children, objected, and said that she didn’t think her son would be safe; sometimes he would hide when Sandusky came to see him. The placement was made anyway. A few months after he moved in, Matt and a girl who was also a foster child in the Sandusky home tried to kill themselves. “The night of the suicide attempt,” Ganim reports, Matt wrote a letter to the child-welfare officer saying that he wanted to stay with the Sanduskys: “I feel that they have supported me even when I have messed up.” One hears, in that, a child who has been told that he was bad, and ought to be grateful.

Whatever happened to Matt wasn’t mentioned in the indictment, and so he would likely only have appeared as a rebuttal witness, if Jerry Sandusky had testified on his own behalf. (He didn’t.) Matt’s life has had hard spots, marked by fitful contact with Sandusky. He had said earlier that he wasn’t abused; he had been talked about as a possible defense witness. He also once, as an adult, called the police when Sandusky wouldn’t leave his house. He brought his children to visit Sandusky, in what was looked on as a gesture of support; afterward, his ex-wife went to court to make sure that wouldn’t happen again. She also spoke to investigators. According to Ganim,

When Jerry Sandusky would call Matt, [Matt’s ex-wife] told police, Matt would keep the conversations private. But every time he hung up the phone he would go to the bathroom and throw up.

Dottie Sandusky, Jerry’s wife, testified that she never saw anything amiss. One of the alleged victims had testified that she had come into a hotel room where Sandusky had him in the bathroom, and come close to seeing abuse. She said that, the way she remembered it, Jerry was, indeed, arguing with the boy in the bathroom, but it was because the boy had done something wrong: they had spent fifty dollars for a ticket to a luncheon for him, and he didn’t want to go. From Maureen Dowd’s account of her testimony:

“He was yelling,” she said of her husband, adding: “I know Jerry was mad the way he looked. He said, ‘We did this for you. You’ve got to do this.’” She added with irritation that “we had to pay for his airline ticket; we had to pay for his food,” even though they had expenses for their “own” children and grandchildren.

That lack of gratitude was, apparently, what she considered a natural explanation for her husband berating a boy who had a hard time at home and was in a strange hotel in another state. What other stories was she willing to accept? Dottie seems, at the very least, not to have been helpful. One of her “own” children was Matt Sandusky.


Anonymous Richard said...

You are exactly right Crystal. The notion that our concerns should drift from the victims of these awful crimes to the institutions that knowingly provided sanctuary to their perpetrators is mind numbing.

9:21 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Richard,

I was just reading more about it in the news. I guess I do feel a tiny bit sorry for Lynn - jail is a scary place.

12:12 AM  

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