There were two recent and separate incidents of Massapequa residents arrested for violating children. They both have the right to be tried in a court of law and not in a court of public opinion, but I’m not writing this hoping to shine a big spotlight on them or to publicly humiliate them.
I’m writing this for all of the people who are shaking their heads surprised that a pedophile could be living in our midst. I mean, c’mon, aren’t they supposed to be walking around with a sign stating they are here to molest our children?
I had a few friends that were victims of sexual abuse as children and all spoke of staying quiet for fear that grown-ups would not believe them. All spoke of an abuser who instilled that fear in them. One friend recounted stories of being raped by her step-father on a regular basis. He was a stellar member of the community and, to those who may have observed him, appeared to be loving, doting and involved parent. She spoke of her mother who she felt knew but turned a blind eye because the truth was too horrific to face.
Mary’s* home life, growing up, looked happy. Her mom, a pretty young widow and her new husband who loved her daughters as if they were his own. Mary and her sister were always well dressed and polite. They ate dinner together as a family and went to church. They even had a white picket fence. Looks can be deceiving.
I thought of Mary quite a bit while reading some of the comments following those recent local arrests. Many people expressed outrage that such a trusted member of the community could be accused of such a thing. How could anyone think that such an outstanding member of the community would ever do such a thing?
"He was so nice. He was so good to the kids. The story must be wrong. It must be a lie. Of course there were also the personal testimonials. I knew him so well. He’d never do that. He was our neighbor. Always the first one to help. Always there in a pinch. No. Not him.
Our news is interactive now. When Mary was young, news was still delivered to our doorstep. She didn’t have to worry about an entire online community doubting her story because they knew the stellar community member. I’ve often wondered, and Mary has too, how many others her step-father molested because of her fear to expose him. Of course, I’m not blaming her. Looking at some of the online comments in the recent stories, I couldn’t imagine what a victim must go through. Still, the silence enabled him to continue to rape how many others? That isn’t Mary’s fault but it does cause her guilt.
Mary isn’t the only victim I know. It saddens me that I know a few others all with similar stories, all victims to someone who, by way of their position in the community, would escape suspicion. They are all people who walk among us, live among us and interact with our kids.
Recently I had to hand over my license to walk into my son’s school. Some parents think that by running an ID, their kids are safe from harm. Mary’s father could walk in and out of that school a million times and not one parent would know that he is a child molester. Most of the victims I know were abused by someone with no record and a great reputation. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by that scanner at the entrance of the school. Not one molester is walking into that school with a sign stating they are there to molest your kid.
The next time you read a news story and think not him. He’s a pillar of the community, think of my friend Mary. Her step-father, the pillar of the community, lived among us. He was raping his step-daughter by night and coaching kids after school and on weekends. He was damaging a young girl he had been trusted with and we’ll never know how many others.
He didn’t walk around with a sign. He wasn’t grotesque and he was never arrested. He could be walking around a school right now unencumbered. He is a pedophile and none of the people who invite him to parties or barbecues or rides on their boat have any idea. He wears a mask. You just don’t see it.
*Mary's name has been changed to protect her privacy.