The media frenzy over the Foley page IM scandal went way overboard, but what bothers me most about the thing is not the blatant attempt to do as much damage as possible to the GOP, but the fact that I can’t have the television or radio news on when my kids are in the room anymore. For the past two weeks I have had flashbacks to the days of the infamous “semen stained dress.” That is when I first learned to be quick with the “mute” button. What is most disturbing though is not the media coverage of political scandals with references to sex, but the sheer volume of news in which sexual molestation and assault are a part.
If it was confined to the news, to some other person in some other town, it might not even be so disturbing. Increasingly though, these stories hit too close to home. I have had several occasions to see these stories that make the news, or at least make it into court, affect someone I know personally.
The first time involved a teacher at the school I attended in fifth and sixth grade. The teacher was also the coach of the girls’ basketball team. He seemed like a nice enough guy and was a popular teacher. He was my homeroom teacher, and also taught me history and P.E. I had no indication that anything was out of the ordinary. (Of course, I was only in fifth grade at the time.) I found out about ten years later that he had some real problems when I saw on the news that he had been arrested for hiding cameras in the girls’ locker room and filming team members undressing.
My next brush with a creepy pervert was even more disturbing. I was out of college and had been working several years when I found out that a friend I had worked with a few years earlier was having troubles. We had been really close friends, but had not been in touch for a year or so since I had moved and had gotten married. A mutual friend told me she was having trouble — he didn’t want to tell me what was wrong, but just told me that I really needed to call her. When I contacted my friend she told me the story of her new husband (of a couple of years) who she discovered had hidden a camera in their bathroom vent and had been filming her sixteen-year-old daughter in the shower. He had a secret screening area set up under the house where he would view the tapes. I had met him a couple of times, but had never gotten any “creepy vibes.”
Those two stories shook me up, because they involved people I knew. You would think that two creepy perverts would be enough for any one person to know personally, but unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky.
The next time I found myself in the presence of a sex offender was even more surprising than the first two. I got a call at work one day from my husband telling me that the man across the street had been arrested. I honestly had to ask twice to make sure I understood him. The man across the street was a retired IBM guy whose wife always knew what was going on in the neighborhood. She frequently made pies and other dishes that she brought over, and she always checked in on me if she noticed my car home during a workday. He was a nice, but quiet, guy who we always trusted to feed our dog when we went out of town.
Well, it turns out that Mr. Retired IBM guy was exposing himself to little girls in the neighborhood. Thankfully one neighbor aimed a hidden camera at his backyard and caught him in the act. I later learned he had even asked one girl if she had seen what he was doing, so the behavior was escalating from indecent exposure to actual contact with the kids. Since I had a young daughter by the time he was caught, and he lived within sight of my house and had been in my home many times, this case made me feel vulnerable in a way the others had not. I went to court to watch the proceedings against him and had already decided that if he didn’t receive punishment and move away that I would be taking action to convince him that he needed to move… to a nice retirement community away from any neighborhoods full of children. A great prosecutor in our county got an innocent plea changed to a guilty one in record time by wheeling in a t.v. cart with a VCR loaded with “the video” with the intent of showing it in open court. He spent some time in jail for his offense and then moved to Florida — hopefully to an all adult community.
I saw another sex scandal involving kids on my local news last night and fortunately was able to mute the report before my kids heard it. A few minutes later when channel surfing I caught a bit of entertainment news about Sara Evans and her divorce involving a husband who she says liked to take pictures of his erect penis and post online. My kids are big Sara Evans fans so if they had been in the room I would have had a time trying to explain to them why they couldn’t watch a report on her.
Enough already. I have had my fill. I am just curious — does anyone else have a handful of similar stories involving people they know personally or have I crossed paths with a higher than average number of perverts? I am seriously starting to wonder.