IL--Group urges reporters to “back off” with Hastert victims
For immediate release: Monday, July 13
Enough is enough! We urge reporters to STOP looking for victims of Dennis Hastert. Just leave the guys alone. They have already suffered so much for so long.
The Chicago Tribune reports that numerous reporters are “digging through Yorkville High School yearbooks and knocking on doors of former high school wrestlers now in their 50s and 60s.”
We know this. We’ve been called by a number of journalists in this effort.
These efforts are irresponsible and hurtful.
We all know that child sex crimes are widespread, devastating and dramatically under-reported. So our goal, as responsible adults, should be to do all we can to gently prod victims to tell police about child molesters.
That goal, however, is compromised by aggressive searches to find victims. Such searches feel – and are – intrusive to already struggling victims of horrific crimes.
To get more victims to come forward, we must respect their privacy. It’s just that simple.
It might be different if no one knew about the serious, credible and widely-reported charges against Hastert. It might be different if Hastert were on the run from the law. It might be different if prosecutors filed and then withdrew child sex charges against Hastert because they lacked sufficient evidence to pursue him further.
But most parents, especially in Illinois, now know that he’s accused of child sex crimes, even though he hasn’t specifically been charged with them. Few parents would trust their kids alone around Hastert today.
So let’s back off trying to find his victims.
Kids are safest when predators are jailed. We hope that someday this happens to Hastert. But aggressive work by reporters to find Hastert’s victims likely makes this less likely.
Apparently, at least two Hastert victims are working with law enforcement. Their confidentiality should be honored.
It’s fine to push for victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to work with law enforcement. They can do that anonymously. But once they are helping law enforcement, let’s respect their privacy.
Some have questioned whether a Hastert victim owes income tax. Let’s let the IRS pursue this if they like. Again, let’s respect the privacy of those who have been deeply wounded.
Surviving child sexual violence is so difficult already, more so when the perpetrator is revered and honored and popular and powerful.
How difficult it must have been for Hastert’s victims, over the years, watching their perpetrator become third in line to lead the most powerful nation on earth.
We imagine them suffering years of shame and embarrassment, low self-esteem and fear. Years of anger and frustration as their perpetrator moved up in terms of public prestige while they struggled alone to cope with life-long devastating impacts.
The least that should happen now is for the press and the private detectives they have hired to stop.
(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)
Dennis Hastert and 'Individual A' leave many unanswered questions
By David Heinzmann and Jeff Coen, Chicago Tribune
One by one, men identified by political insiders and the Kendall County rumor mill have denied being "Individual A," the mysterious figure who prosecutors say took cash from former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to keep quiet about a dark history with him.
They have repeatedly . . .