Two of the most recent cases concerning childhood sexual abuse scandals have recently been decided. The Jerry Sandusky trial has ended and he was convicted on most of the charges. Also Monsignor William Lynn, who helped the Archdiocese of Philadelphia keep predator-priests in ministry, and the public in the dark, by telling parishes their priests were being removed for health reasons and then sending the men to unsuspecting churches, was also convicted in a landmark clergy-abuse trial. These two cases are both very important because they show how childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated against so many children. The abuses are known to people, who could report them to authorities, but for one reason or another, those people refuse to do what’s right and report the offenses. And in the mean time, more and more children are abused until somebody with guts enough steps up and does the right thing.
Just as the high-profile case against Jerry Sandusky trial came to a close, attorneys for Sandusky’s 33-year-old adopted son, Matt, disclosed that he’d been sexually abused by the former coach and had been prepared to testify against him if called to the stand. The jury had already begun deliberating when Matt Sandusky’s attorneys issued the statement alleging that Sandusky abused him.
“During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse,” Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in the statement. “At Matt’s request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators. “This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment.”
Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife as a foster child and was later adopted by them. Shortly after Jerry Sandusky’s arrest, Matt Sandusky’s ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents’ home. Around the same time, details emerged that Matt Sandusky had attempted suicide just months after first going to live with the Sanduskys in 1995. He had come into the home through The Second Mile organization. Shortly after the suicide attempt, a probation officer wrote, “The probation department has some serious concerns about the juvenile’s safety and his current progress in placement with the Sandusky family,” according to court records supplied by his birth mother, Debra Long. Despite those concerns, probation and child welfare officials recommended continued placement with the Sandusky family, and the judge overseeing his case agreed.
Late Friday, after a swift trial and less than two days of deliberations, a jury issued an emphatic verdict: Sandusky was guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse and will likely get a life sentence and die in prison. The verdict is not the end of the scandal and will likely play out in courtrooms for years due to the ongoing investigations.
Attorney General Linda Kelly said, “One of the recurring themes in this case was, `Who would believe a kid?'” The verdict has answered that question for every child that has suffered abuse at the hands of a pedophile. We believe in our kids when they tell us of abuse!
Sandusky’s arrest in November led the Penn State trustees to fire Paterno as head coach, saying he exhibited a lack of leadership after fielding a report from McQueary. The scandal also led to the firing of university President Graham Spanier and criminal charges against two university administrators for failing to properly report suspected child abuse and perjury. The two administrators, athletic director Tim Curley and now-retired vice president Gary Schultz, are fighting the allegations and await trial.
The family of Paterno, who died exactly five months before Sandusky’s conviction, released a statement saying: “Although we understand the task of healing is just beginning, today’s verdict is an important milestone. The community owes a measure of gratitude to the jurors for their diligent service. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families.”
In a statement by Penn State Officials, Penn State praised the accusers who testified and said that it planned to invite the victims of Sandusky’s abuse to participate in a private program to address their concerns and compensate them for claims related to the school. this is the very least they should do, but I personally believe they should be held accountable for this scandal as well legally!
The related Monsignor William Lynn case was also a landmark child sexual abuse trial. Lynn is the first U.S. church official branded a felon for covering up abuse claims. The 61-year-old Lynn was convicted of child endangerment. He served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, mostly under Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. “Many in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia hierarchy had dirty hands,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. “They failed to realize that the church is its people.” Lynn had faced about 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted of all three counts he faced _ conspiracy and two counts of child endangerment. He was convicted of only a single endangerment count, which carries a possible 3 1/2- to 7 year prison term. The jury found that Lynn endangered the victim of defrocked priest Edward Avery, who pleaded guilty before trial to a 1999 sexual assault. The defense pledged to appeal the conviction. The jury could not reach a verdict for Lynn’s co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1999.
Despite Lynn’s acquittal on the conspiracy charge, the trial exposed how deeply involved the late cardinal was in dealing with accused priests. Bevilacqua had the final say on what to do with priests accused of abuse, transferred many of them to new parishes and dressed down anyone who complained, according to testimony. He also ordered the shredding of a 1994 list that Lynn prepared, warning that the archdiocese had three diagnosed pedophiles, a dozen confirmed predators and an additional 20 possible abusers in its midst. Church lawyers turned over a surviving copy of the list days after Bevilacqua died.
Lynn had deemed Avery “guilty” of an earlier complaint on the 1994 list, and helped steer him into an inpatient treatment program run by the archdiocese. But Lynn knew that Avery later was sent to live in a northeast Philadelphia parish, where the altar boy was assaulted. The victim alleges that he was also assaulted by another priest and his Catholic school teacher. They are expected to be tried later this year. “Lynn was a smart, able manager who at any time could have called the police, warned parishes, or threatened to blow the whistle,” McKiernan said. “He was not a helpless good guy. The only helpless people in this ongoing catastrophe were the children, the many hundreds of boys and girls who were sodomized and terrorized by the men Lynn managed.”
More than 500 Roman Catholic priests have been convicted of abuse charges across the U.S. and Lynn is the first church official to be convicted for his administrative actions. After the verdict, the archdiocese apologized to clergy-abuse victims and said the church was on a “journey of reform and renewal that requires honesty and hope. We are committed to providing support and assistance to parishioners as they and the church seek to more deeply understand sexual violence, and to create an environment that is safe and welcoming to all, including past victims,” read the church’s statement, which did not reference Lynn directly. Defense lawyers say Lynn alone tried to document the complaints, get priests into treatment and alert the cardinal to the growing crisis. Church documents show therapists had called one accused priest a ticking “time bomb” and “powder keg.” Defense lawyers argued that Lynn was merely a middle manager, and perhaps a fall guy for the archdiocese. Lynn himself, during three grueling days on the stand, mused about a question he was asked: “You want me to answer for the whole church?”
In light of these two landmark cases, I believe justice has been served and hopefully people will wake up to the fact that they must report child sexual abuse as soon as they know it or suspect it. Let the authorities investigate and find the truth of the matter. Silence perpetuates violence! Our children depend on us for protection against these predators and unless we all step up and do what’s right, our children will continue to suffer needlessly!
- Sandusky found guilty on child sex abuse charges; appeal expected (cnn.com)
- Adopted son says Jerry Sandusky molested him – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs (news.blogs.cnn.com)
- Philadelphia Priest Convicted Of Sex Abuse Cover Up (newstalkcleveland.com)