DC--Victims to Paul Ryan: Take down Hastert portrait
For immediate release: Friday, Oct. 30
Denny Hastert’s Capitol Hill portrait must come down. Now that he’s pled guilty, there’s absolutely no excuse for Congressional officials to hurt victims of abuse by honoring an acknowledged wrongdoer.
College after college has rescinded honors to Bill Cosby. Congress should do the same with Hastert.
(We first issued this plea in June. http://www.snapnetwork.org/dc_victims_call_for_removal_of_hastert_s_portrait_in_congress)
Many politicians mishandle money. Hastert, however, has clearly done worse: he’s a credibly accused child molester. He doesn’t admit it and hasn’t been charged for it. But he shouldn’t be rewarded for secrecy and law-breaking.
We’re saddened but not surprised that few other groups are calling for the removal of Hastert’s portrait. Let’s face it: child sex abuse is a disturbing subject. Often, once the court system has dealt with a predator, it’s tempting and easy for the rest of us to just “move on.” But judges aren’t the only officials who have a duty to protect kids and help victims of sexual violence to report crimes (by removing honors like this for men like Hastert). All of us do. And few have a clearer duty than our elected officials.
Here’s the message shelving Hastert’s portrait would send: “No matter how powerful you become, once you’re a proven, admitted or credibly accused child molester, your honors and accolades and special treatment ends. No one who hurts a child will enjoy any exalted status anywhere, especially in our nation’s Capital.”
Here it is, as plainly as we can put it: In a tax-payer funded building hangs a tax-payer funded portrait of an admitted criminal and accused child molester. That’s just wrong. Simple justice cries out for action here. Inaction rubs even more salt into the already deep wounds of millions of adults and teens who were raped, molested and fondled as innocent kids by powerful adults.
We can make it easier or harder for victims of sexual violence to protect others by speaking up. Letting Hastert’s portrait hang makes it harder. House Speaker Paul Ryan must act now to remedy this.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)