Victims blast Franco Harris over his Paterno comments
For immediate release: Monday, July 18
Shame on Franco Harris for his continuing callous remarks about child sex abuse victims. We beg him to stop, think about what he’s saying and start caring more about vulnerable children and suffering adults and less about football figures. We urge him to apologize.
Last week, the ex-Pittsburgh Steelers player cast doubt on the Jerry Sandusky victim who said, under oath, that decades ago, he promptly reported the abuse he suffered to Joe Paterno and other PSU staff.
The York Dispatch reported that Harris said he “had doubts about the veracity of the statements” by Sandusky victims.
“If (John Doe 150) didn't call the police, if he didn't call child services, if he didn't call the department of public welfare, something's not adding up,” Harris said.
At best, this shows stunning ignorance by Harris. At worst, it shows stunning callousness.
Very few children are able to quickly understand that what's happening to them is illegal and potentially devastating. If they do, they then have to summon the strength to speak up. That’s very hard to do.
Still, that’s what John Doe 150 apparently did. But Harris suggests that he did something wrong. That’s crazy.
A kid reported a child sex crime to several adults. They responded abruptly, dismissively and hurtfully. And because that brave, wounded kid didn’t then call 911, Harris says something’s amiss. That’s absurd and hurtful.
And it discourages other crime victims from speaking up. When public figures dismiss or doubt or criticize crime victims who DO speak up, other crime victims often feel helpless and hopeless. They stay silent instead of taking action. And criminals are then able to keep hurting others.
Adults have a simple choice: we can either make it easier or harder for victims of sexual violence to come forward and expose wrongdoers. Harris is making it harder. Shame on him.
We call Harris to publicly apologize for making such irresponsible, harmful comments.
No matter what PSU officials or Paterno backers do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in schools, churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted 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.