OK--Wrestling Hall of Fame weighs Hastert honor
For immediate release: Thursday, April 28, 2016
We’re glad officials at the Wrestling Hall of Fame are considering removing Hastert’s name and honors. But they should have done so long ago.
Continuing to treat Hastert as a role model or a celebrity hurts victims of sexual violence and deters them from reporting predators.
Hastert has pled guilty to financial misdeeds. He lied to law enforcement. And he molested at least four boys. And 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 all of this and and Hastert’s shameful pre-sentencing posturing and in-court ducking and dodging yesterday, 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.
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 several ways. Among them: he sexually assaulted kids and he illegally moved hush money. And he repeatedly used 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 Wrestling Hall of Fame to act decisively, act compassionately and act now.
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)