OK--Museum should remove D. Hastert honors
For immediate release: Friday, April 8, 2016
The Stillwater-based Wrestling Hall of Fame must now remove all references to and honors of Dennis Hastert, the ex-House speaker. Continuing to treat Hastert as a role model or even a celebrity hurts victims of sexual violence and deters them from reporting predators.
Hastert has pled guilty to financial misdeeds. He is accused of lying to law enforcement and molested at least four boys. And this week, he’s minimizing his wrong-doing with a vague and self-serving “apology” while refusing to “come clean” about how widespread and long-standing his crimes.
Months ago, a number of other institutions removed honors and mentions of Hastert:
With these new revelations of four alleged child sex victims and with Hastert’s shameful pre-sentencing posturing, there are more reasons than ever for Hall of Fame officials to show compassion and courage by getting rid of any and all recognition of this disgraced criminal.
We also believe prison time for Dennis Hastert is appropriate and his so-called ‘apology’ is not.
A criminal who breaks the law once often deserves leniency. A young person who impulsively shoplifts on a dare or vandalizes once when drunk should be given a break, especially if they break the law once.
But Hastert did wrong in two ways: he sexually assaulted kids and he illegally moved hush money. We suspect he broke the law dozens of times, repeatedly using his power and status as a trusted teacher and coach to sexually violate youngsters.
And Hastert has had months to find the courage to admit his crimes. But he adamantly refuses, opting instead for the sanitizing and inaccurate word “misconduct.”
“Misconduct” is eating a sandwich on a crowded bus or cursing in front of children. Sexually assaulting children is not “misconduct,” it’s a horrific, life-altering crime. The repeated raping and fondling a youngster are not “harmful incidents.” Again, these are crimes, heinous betrayals of trust that cause suicide, agoraphobic, addictions, eating disorders and deep shattering of self-esteem. No one, least of all a child molester, should get by adding more pain to his already suffering victims by minimizing the devastation he’s caused.
In light of Hastert’s stubborn and self-serving refusal to be honest, and to deter more hurtful remarks like this in the future, we urge the judge to consider a longer sentence than the six month deal that’s been proposed.
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups by Hastert to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling journalists, get justice by calling attorneys, and get comfort by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.