Monday, November 14, 2011

It's About The Victims, Not Paterno's Reputation

The news of the past week has churned up a past memory that I had already processed and laid to rest.  Like a stubborn hemorrhoid, it emerged again with the breaking story of Sandusky, the Penn State coach. There was a huge uproar when the University Board fired the President on down to the famed Joe Paterno (although not the actual Grad Asst. who witnessed the rape of a 10 year old boy).

When I was 11 years old, I was the victim of inappropriate touching, groping, if you will, by a man 6 times my age.  My grandparents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Coronado, CA where they had retired from a Naval career; my grandfather a naval Captain.  There were many people at this party, many in dress uniform and I knew none of them.  Dressed for the event, my little sister and I were tucked away in the den with the television, coming out for snacks and drinks.  On one such foray into the party, I made a stop in the bedroom to grab my book, Nancy Drew, and that's when I heard the door close.  An older man, in a suit, entered the room, making small talk.  He asked me my name, whose child I was, how old I was.  He asked me if I had started menstruating yet, his eyes on my chest.  I don't remember if I answered him because he had gotten so close to me, first grasping my arm before helping himself to my emerging breasts.  I know I pulled back.  I remember he quickly calmed me by letting go and backing up.  I don't remember who left the room first because I know I just wanted to get out of there.  I know I didn't tell anyone until much later, it might have been after we returned to Michigan.  My mother was mortified.  I don't know what she did about it, I do remember she wanted to report it and I begged her not to but I answered her questions anyway.  She made some phone calls.  I just wanted it over with.  I do know that it scared me.  I do know that I was embarrassed, I do know it had a profound effect on how I looked at myself, carried myself.  It wasn't a rape, it was a grope.   I tell this story because it is an example of how quickly it happens, how intimidating it is, how close it may be to all of us.

I imagine the victims of Sandusky and it makes me sick.  No one took this to police.  As an adult, I say screw protocol, this was an emergency that should have been reported immediately to the police.  That NO ONE saw to it was a failure to that child, and any other child Sandusky violated. And that child takes precedence over any person, their position or their fame.

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