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Hiding in Plain Sight . . . With Help

Jul 16, 2012 — Categories: , ,

The Penn State report and the conviction of Jerry Sandusky provide the irrefutable evidence that he was a sexual predator on the loose for over twenty years and there were numerous people with full knowledge of his crimes who could have stopped him. How does this happen?

The Penn State report and the conviction of Jerry Sandusky provide the irrefutable evidence that he was a sexual predator on the loose for over twenty years and there were numerous people with full knowledge of his crimes who could have stopped him.  How does this happen?

Judith Herman, in her classic text Trauma and Recovery, helps us begin to understand:

To study psychological trauma is to come face to face both with human vulnerability in the natural world and with the capacity for evil in human nature. . . Those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict. The bystander is forced to take sides.
It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering.

The bystanders, in this case, were the powers-that-be.  The disclosures from victims and adults who witnessed abuse of children began in 1998.  People with the power to stop Sandusky did more than nothing.  They covered for him, including Coach Paterno and university officials.  Finally in 2009, the Pennsylvania Attorney General began to investigate.  Two years later, Sandusky was finally arrested and Penn State leadership began to realize what a cataclysm they brought upon themselves.

Institutional stupidity and an institution’s desire to supposedly protect itself by ignoring the cancer growing within it is nothing new.  But I have to wonder how the powers-that-be at Penn State could have been watching the simultaneously occurring debacle of the Roman Catholic Church and not have thought earlier, “Hey, maybe we should do something about this pedophile in our sandbox.”

Judith Herman reminds us, “The victims demand action, engagement, and remembering.”  Finally, for those survivors who came forward as part of the criminal case against Sandusky and for all the others out there who read about the outcomes of this case, may they have some small sense of victory and justice.

We will be watching to see if the leadership of Penn State now has the will and the courage to act, engage, and remember.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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Hiding in the UMC

Posted by SurvivorGirl007 at Sep 10, 2012 10:54 PM
I see this very thing alive and well in the UMC. Our bishop has both knowledge of and proof that my former pastor who abused me is a predator. Has this incited the bishop to action? No. It's very much as you've outlined in this blog post: Hiding the predator's misdeeds - doing whatever he (the bishop) can to minimize information-sharing - is the only action taken. As you wrote, this is non-action - and I will add this: It's non-action masquerading as action.