A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, March 13, 2015

Surely You Remember the Wave of Outrage...

...that swept the country. A major investigative report by the Associated Press about ten years ago has been found webward. It is linked here for Faithful Reader's edification. TOF remembers brief mention at the time, but it was picked up by only a few major newspapers and (ITRRC) by no networks.

Which may be why you don't remember the wave of outrage.

    The young teacher hung his head, avoiding eye contact. Yes, he had touched a fifth-grader's breast during recess. "I guess it was just lust of the flesh," he told his boss.
     That got Gary C. Lindsey fired from his first teaching job in Oelwein, Iowa. But it didn't end his career. He taught for decades in Illinois and Iowa, fending off at least a half-dozen more abuse accusations.
     When he finally surrendered his teaching license in 2004 - 40 years after that first little girl came forward - it wasn't a principal or a state agency that ended his career. It was one persistent victim and her parents.
     Lindsey's case is just a small example of a widespread problem in American schools: sexual misconduct by the very teachers who are supposed to be nurturing the nation's children.
     Students in America's schools are groped. They're raped. They're pursued, seduced and think they're in love.
     An Associated Press investigation found more than 2,500 cases over five years in which educators were punished for actions from bizarre to sadistic.
 Speculation why this scandal got no traction while others did are left as an exercise to the reader. Perhaps it has to do with the political connections and ideologies of the organizations of which the different groups are members.
[I]n Hawaii, no educators were disciplined by the state in the five years the AP examined, even though some teachers there were serving sentences for various sex crimes during that time. They technically remained teachers, even behind bars.
If only teachers were allowed to marry, we wouldn't have problems like this, where they don't even get "defrocked."

Then there are the problems with the "bishops."
Two of the nation's major teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, each denounced sex abuse while emphasizing that educators' rights also must be taken into account.
 At least there were no efforts to hush things up:
The AP investigation found efforts to stop individual offenders but, overall, a deeply entrenched resistance toward recognizing and fighting abuse. It starts in school hallways, where fellow teachers look away or feel powerless to help. School administrators make behind-the-scenes deals to avoid lawsuits and other trouble. And in state capitals and Congress, lawmakers shy from tough state punishments or any cohesive national policy for fear of disparaging a vital profession.
Or to "blame the victim":
In case after case the AP examined, accusations of inappropriate behavior were dismissed. One girl in Mansfield, Ohio, complained about a sexual assault by teacher Donald Coots and got expelled. It was only when a second girl, years later, brought a similar complaint against the same teacher that he was punished.

In Hamburg, Pa., in 2002, those "red flags" should have been clear. A student skipped classes every day to spend time with one teacher. He gave her gifts and rides in his car. She sat on his lap. The bond ran so deep that the student got chastised repeatedly - even suspended once for being late and absent so often. But there were no questions for the teacher.

In Pennsylvania, after news of teacher Troy Mansfield's arrest hit, girls called Kline, his 12-year-old victim, a "slut" to her face. A teacher called her a "vixen." Friends stopped talking to her. Kids no longer sat with her at lunch. Her abuser, meanwhile, had been a popular teacher and football coach.
Yessiree, bob.


  1. The consistency of our media is truly impressive. Rarely do they slip up and publish any news unflattering to those who long to save us from ourselves, unless we're schoolkids or some other troublemakers. The old joke about Catholics not belonging to an organized religion springs to mind - you want to see an organized religion? Just turn on the news.

  2. I remember someone challenging media critic Howard Kurtz on the virtual silence that greeted this investigation. His email response was "don't know much about it. Sorry."

  3. Your point, "Perhaps it has to do with the political connections and ideologies of the organizations of which the different groups are members," is well-taken. But yet the scandal of the predator priests (and ministers (and surely rabbis and mullahs)) seems somehow worse, the betrayal deeper.

  4. @ Richard

    Not to mention significantly smaller and predicated by a 382% ratio of homosexual to heterosexual abuses.

  5. But yet the scandal of the predator priests (and ministers (and surely rabbis and mullahs)) seems somehow worse, the betrayal deeper.

    The acts are the same. The predator priests were caught, punished, and removed from pastoral duty, though sometimes after deplorable delays. The predator teachers, in many cases, are still teaching, and there happen to be laws compelling parents to send their children to be exposed to their abuse.

    In my books, the combination of coercion and impunity makes the teachers far worse.


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