Share Your Story

With the strength powered by a desire to ensure this doesn't happen to any other children,

victims are coming forward every day, urging Senators to pass the #windowtojustice.

Hear and share their stories. 

 

BRIAN & NOEL

Today, I write our story on behalf of myself and my sister, two young innocent children who were once silenced and frightened to be left behind, forgotten and rendered voiceless.

We were victimized back in the 80’s at the ages of 6 and 9 by the hands of a close family friend and his daughter. The sexual abuse would span overs years - the mental abuse would be a lifetime sentence. We also endured many physical ailments (migraines, gastrointestinal issues, concentration issues, nightmares, anxiety, and depression). We existed in a world that we never fit into but never quite knew why. People need to be aware of the devastating effects sexual abuse has over ones life, it forever alters ones’ life trajectory and all future possibilities. Words cannot accurately depict the living hell one endures as a result of these heinous, deplorable perpetrators.

As most victims can attest to, we all too often feel worthless, hopeless and voiceless. But in 2015, my sister and I found our voice and mustered the courage to tell our story, not only for us but for others who may have been suffering the same fate. Due to the coverup of our story, the abuse is allowed to continue. After notifying the proper authorities it became evident to us that our perpetrators position on the School Board and political affiliations were more powerful than the truth. To this day, our abusers, a School Board member and PTA President, still hold their positions and have open access to children. It is glaringly obvious that collusion and corruption exists not only in the Diocese, but in other institutions.

We implore you Senators to be the voice for the voiceless, “If not us, than who?” “If not now, then when?” STAND UP for the children - Use your position and power for something bigger than yourselves!!

 

LIZ GOLDMAN

I was sexually abused by a teacher from 1984-1986, when I was in the 7th and 8th grade.

It was prolonged, it was intense, it was awful.  He groomed me in such a deliberate, intentional way that I believed I wanted his friendship, trust and love.  At ages 12-14, I wanted to feel special.  I didn’t want the physical part. I didn’t want to be in the school’s equipment room alone with him or to be trapped in the backseat of his car with him so many times.

Almost as destructive as the abuse itself was the way in which my school repeatedly mishandled it.  The principal, assistant principal and guidance counselor knew about it in 1986.  In 1988, at age 16, I went back to the school administration and was silenced.  I was told to put it behind me and that I had "aged out" of the statute of limitations (SOL) since I had only 2 years to report anything for there to be legal recourse. I was a few months too late.

I would have had to have known what a “statute” and what a legal “limitation” was at ages 14 and 15, the 2 years after my abuse ended, to have any legal rights.  I would also have needed to have been ready to take legal action at a time when I was unready to do so. It took me several years to define, let alone comprehend what happened to me and its huge effect on my life. 

The limited SOL gave my predator more rights than I and other potential victims had.  I returned to the school in 1999, afraid I was complicit in not stopping possible further sexual abuse as the teacher was still employed there.  I brought evidence, a stack of revealing love letters from my perpetrator, written to me when I was 13 and he was 40.  The administrators threatened to keep my letters and told me this “matter was closed.” 

I went back to the school yet again in 2005, upset that 19 years after my abuse, this teacher was still teaching there. They told me (and documented this in a letter to me) that they were not going to investigate this further.  The district repeatedly and, I believe, knowingly harbored a sex offender.  I then wrote a letter expressing my panicked sense of civic duty in needing to expose my perpetrator. I copied his love letters and mailed these to 8 school district officials.  Then, the teacher resigned.  He was never fired.  He still lives unpunished in PA.

Child sexual abuse is wrong.  Institutional cover-ups are wrong.  Limited SOL is wrong.

It is unconscionable not to protect children from sexual predators.  Legislation must be passed to allow these perpetrators to be identified and if found guilty, prosecuted.  Predators rarely have only one victim. This is a public safety issue.

The narrow SOL failed to protect me.  My institution – a highly regarded public school - also failed to protect me and its students against one of its teachers whom I clearly identified as a pedophile on multiple occasions.

I am a victim.  I am a survivor.  I am angry that other children were needlessly exposed to my predator.  I am also a psychiatrist. In my career, I have come to understand why it can be so challenging for people who were sexually abused as children to deal with their abuse straightforwardly.  They question how something which in some ways felt so special was so corrupt.  It is incredibly confusing. Child victims often try to preserve their sense of safety by creating an explanation to themselves that absolves their abuser of blame and responsibility.  Or, they simply may be terrified to tell anyone.

In my specific case and in that of many others, it took even longer to recognize the abuse for what it was because the institution which I trusted to protect me refused to do so.  It chose to protect my abuser. It takes time for child sexual abuse victims to understand their abuse and, once understood, to use the legal system to seek relief. Limited SOL doesn’t allow victims that time.

PA needs the #windowtojustice.


SHAWN