Now that America’s most notorious serial child molester will stay behind bars, the focus will shift from the Penn State staffer who committed child sex crimes to the three Penn State staffers who concealed those crimes.
Still, no one should forget the courageous men who reported Sandusky’s crimes and helped get him locked up. They are the reason Jerry Sandusky will never molest again. They deserve praise and thanks from every Pennsylvania parent.
Though child sex crimes are widespread and cover ups are painfully common, in one sense, the Penn State scandal is somewhat unusual. The justice system, thus far and for the most part, seems to be working for most Sandusky victims. For most child sex abuse victims, however, it does not.
Thankfully most (but not all) of Sandusky’s victims are within the statute of limitations. That’s unusual. In the majority of cases, predator-friendly laws prevent victims from ever seeking justice – civil or criminal. Reforming and repealing those arbitrary laws is critical if we want to catch molesters after their first two or three victims, instead of after their 20th or 30th victim.
While Sandusky can no longer hurt kids, there are other known predators right now on college campuses who continue to walk free (thanks, in large part, to archaic, predatory friendly statute of limitations):
-- In Michigan, at Adrian College, Thomas Hodgman walks free. In 2005, a child sex abuse suit against him settled for $1.6 million. And during the litigation, documents surfaced including Hodgman's signed "confession documents" showing that he molested three teens while he taught at a California Catholic high school. Yet neither college nor Catholic officials are warning or protecting Adrian students or staff from him. He’s still a professor.
-- In Missouri, at St. Louis University, Fr. Vincent Bryce walks free. In 2002, he admitted molesting teens at two Michigan parishes. Despite his admission, Bryce lives at SLU and works across the street from the university (at the Aquinas Institute). http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2002_04_29_GrandRapidPress_PriestResigns_Daniel_Aerts_1.htm
-- In Washington, Fr. James Poole walks free. He has been accused of sexually molesting numerous girls in Oregon and remote Alaska Native villages. He even got one of the girls pregnant, made the girl get an abortion, and then and told the girl to blame her father.
The Jesuits have paid millions of dollars in settlements to Poole’s victims and have admitted his horrific abuse. Despite all this, he lives at Regis House, on the campus of Gonzaga University. University and Catholic officials are doing nothing to warn or protect students or staff.
In short, much work remains if youngsters are to be safer. The visibility of the Sandusky case has been helpful. But many kids are still violated, many victims are still disbelieved, many predators are still hidden, and many of their colleagues are still complicit. So kids need us to be vigilant, not naïve and active, not passive.