The Penn State scandal has really upset me. Actually, it’s upset me far more than I would like to admit.
I’ll begin with what upset me the most—besides the obvious horrific and stomach-turning sex abuse and cover-up, and the fact that the man who admitted to abusing me and another girl still has his job at Adrian College (Please note that the following are MY views, and not the views of SNAP or any of the other wonderful organizations of which I am a part):
- In response to Penn State’s inaction and possible cover-up of the Sandusky matter, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D- Scranton) and Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) called for hearings in the Senate and the House regarding sex abuse and cover-up at the university. Other politicians may have also asked for hearings on both Penn State and the Citadel, but I stopped keeping track.
Why does this upset me?
- Grand juries in Philadelphia have issued TWO reports (three, if you include one that was not completed). These reports found DOZENS of men who had abused kids and numerous men who covered up for them. The first report in 2005 outlined the horrific histories of predator priests in Philadelphia, but the grand jury could not bring criminal charges, due to elapsed statutes of limitations. The 2011 report resulted in criminal indictments against three priests and a teacher for abuse and an indictment against a high-ranking official for child endangerment. The report also found 37 men in ministry who had allegations of abuse.
Hundreds of children were possibly abused across the state, yet not one politician called for congressional hearings. Are the church’s victims less important than Penn State’s?
What about the victims in:
- Orange County (where documents outlining two decades of abuse and cover-up by high-ranking church officials were made public),
- Los Angeles (where Cardinal Mahony’s culpability in abuse cases should go to trial),
- the Pacific Northwest (where dozens of Native American reservations and Alaska Native villages were intentional dumping grounds for child-molesting clerics),
- South Dakota (where hundreds of Native American children were ripped from their homes and sent to “orphanages” where they were abused, and recently church attorneys got a law passed denying these victims rights to expose their abuse), and
- Delaware (where the Child Victims’ Act outed dozens of perpetrators, some of whom were still working in schools)?
Where are the politicians? Why aren’t they calling for congressional hearings? I think that child sex abuse is a tad more important than steroid usage in professional baseball, and those hearings were endless.
President Obama even weighed in on the Penn State scandal. He told ESPN that our “first priority is protecting our kids.” If that is the case, then why didn’t he say anything when he met with the Pope? Or Cardinal Francis George? Why hasn’t he met with victims? He met with flood victims, water boarding victims, and survivors of a hotel bombing in India. Yet, not once has a president or any other national politician publicly asked for a meeting with survivors of the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal.
I wonder why Missouri congressional leaders aren’t calling for a hearing about the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. If an organization in my district—an organization that cares for thousands of children and takes taxpayer dollars to fund services—was indicted for covering up child pornography and abuse just a few years after paying a huge financial settlement to victims and making a public promise to protect kids, I would be calling for national scrutiny. In fact, diocese lawyers are contending that child pornography may be covered under First Amendment protections. Yeah, really.
For years, I have been hearing complaints from Catholic apologists who claim that the sex abuse scandal in the church is an over-blown creation of the media. I contend that it is the exact opposite: it is a catastrophe that is eating our children and destroying communities. Yet on the national stage, our politicians are simply too scared to do the right thing, confront the men in pointy hats, and protect the children in their districts. And I am really angry about it.
Despite my anger and frustration, I do hope that there are congressional hearings about abuse and cover-up at Penn State and the Citadel. Those children deserve justice. They endured horrible pain, but because of their courage, they are heroes and have become voices for the silent. Perhaps they are paving the way for the clergy sex abuse victims. For that, I am grateful.