(Hate to do this but PLEASE RECOMMEND/Republish so that people are able to see this and participate!)
This Sunday, I will be driving over 700 miles to Bellefonte PA to attend the trial of accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky. I have been preparing for this trip for quite some time, but as the date approaches, I'm growing increasingly nervous. Sitting through 3 weeks of testimony and hearing, in harrowing detail, what was allegedly done to these young boys is going to be very difficult. But it pales in comparison to what the victims themselves are facing:
When former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with 52 counts of child sex abuse late last year, the sheer quantity of allegations and accusers made it seem like Sandusky faced an insurmountable problem in avoiding a conviction.This development does not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the case. From the beginning, it has been clear that discrediting the victims was the key to the defense strategy. The pre-trial motions and statements from Sandusky's attorneys indicate that they will try to impeach their credibility by accusing these young men of making accusations because of a desire to be "pampered" and for financial gain. This effort will be bolstered by the fact that Sandusky allegedly chose victims who were involved in his "Second Mile" charity-which served vulnerable and troubled youth.
On Monday, however, the state of Pennsylvania will face the burden of proof as the Sandusky trial officially begins and prosecutors try to convince a jury that Sandusky, beyond a reasonable doubt, molested 10 boys. The holes in their case, and the ways in which defense attorney Joseph Amendola exploits them, will be the focus for the jury.
"It's generally thought that it is the sheer numbers that are the biggest problem that Sandusky is going to have," said Scott Coffina, a Philadelphia-based attorney who has followed the case. "But these are largely dated accusations, and the type of people Sandusky came in contact with had problems in their lives, that's why they came in contact with him. All of these things will affect the cross examination of these guys."
Portrait of a victim
Back in November, the New York Times ran an article that gave insight into one of Sandusky's alleged victims. Victim #1, as he was called in the grand jury indictment, made headlines when he was bullied out of school after the grand jury report was made public. In the article, through the vantage point of his former coach, a portrait emerges of a troubled young man who has been deeply affected by his abuse:
The boy appears to have never meaningfully known his father. He was raised by his mother, along with two siblings. The boy, perhaps because of his father’s absence or his family’s finances, became involved with a local charity, the Second Mile, a nonprofit organization that worked with disadvantaged children. It had been started in 1977 by Sandusky.
According to prosecutors, Sandusky targeted victims that fit the young boy’s profile, and used gifts and other inducements to establish a relationship and perhaps even trust.
The grand jury report laying out the case against Sandusky says that in 2007 and 2008 he took the boy to restaurants, to church and to a hotel to go swimming.
Joshua Fravel, who lived next door to the boy and his family in a public housing complex in Lock Haven, Pa., said he had seen the boy wearing new designer clothes, shoes and other gifts.
“Once he came home and said, ‘Look, I got a new set of golf clubs, I don’t even play golf,’ ” Fravel said.
Amendola admitted that Sandusky gave gifts to many children, saying that he was “a generous-hearted person.”
But Fravel also recalled the boy once arguing with his mother about a Second Mile road trip he was set to take.
“He was yelling, ‘I don’t want to go, I just don’t want to go,’ ” Fravel said of the boy.
The article shows how Sandusky chose his victims. He targeted boys who were vulnerable. Boys who didn't have a father figure, who were economically disadvantaged and already labeled as "troubled" by the time they walked through the doors of "The Second Mile". He groomed them with expensive gifts, trips, and special attention.
Child Sexual Abuse is a crime that, at its core, is about power. Sandusky was a man of power and influence-a coach for the most successful college football team in the country. His victims, by contrast, were among the most devalued members of society. And once he was done abusing them, he used his power and influence to intimidate them into silence. They never had a chance.
Next week they will have an opportunity to get their power back-but it will not be easy. Judge Cleland ruled last week that their names will be revealed in open court. On the stand, in front of a packed courtroom, they will be forced to testify about the painful and humiliating details of their abuse. And then, they will be subjected to a cross-examination that will aim to destroy their credibility.
Jerry Sandsuky is entitled to a fair trial, which includes a vigorous defense. But these young men deserve to be honored for their courage in coming forward and testifying. I have an idea for how we can show them just how much support they have-but in order to do that, we need your help. Please follow me below the fold to find out more.
As many of you know, in January I wrote a diary called F*ck Joe Paterno, where I publicly disclosed that I was raped when I was 10 years old. In response, I recieved hundreds of wonderful emails and private messages thanking me for speaking out. Many of them were from other survivors.
I did not have a chance to respond to all of them, but I read every single one. Words cannot even describe how much reading those words helped me during a very difficult time. Eventually, I printed them all out and put them into a binder. Any time I feel like I can't keep going forward, I open that binder and it gives me strength.
So here is the plan-We are going to compile a book filled with messages of support for all 10 of the victims who are set to testify next week. We will give the books to their attorneys, to pass on to them.
Here is how you can help:
1. Write a message
Whether you are a survivor, or just someone who wants to show your support, leave a message for these young men. You can leave it in the comments section, or if you would like to do it privately, you can email it to Wearetheoneinfive@gmail.com.
The deadline for submission is Monday, June 11th at 5PM.
Messages can be as short or as long as you wish. But I am going to challenge you to take it a step further, and get creative with it. Here are a few examples of more creative messages.
Include a picture
Take a picture of yourself holding a message that says "I stand with you" (or something similar). Take a group shot with your family or friends holding signs. If you are at Netroots Nation, this is a PERFECT opportunity to get a group shot! (HINT HINT HINT!!! :D)
If you are a survivor, take a current photo of yourself holding a picture of you as a child, around the time you were abused, and submit that along with your message. Here is mine as it would appear on the page:
NoteI will keep any information you share-names, pictures, identifying details-confidential. The only people who would see are myself, Roxine, and the recipients of the book, unless you give us express permission to use them publicly
Write out a message by hand
If you aren't comfortable showing your face, writing something by hand can give your message a personal touch. Black marker on a white background works best. Here is an example:
Another one from Kossack Laserhaas
Please use as much creative license as you want-or as little! A typed up message works just as well. The important thing is to send the message that you stand with these young men, and honor the courage it took for them to come forward.
2. Share this diary
We want to get as many submissions as possible, so please help us keep this diary visable. Share this with your email contacts, and on your social networks.
Remember that the chances are very high that someone you know has been abused themselves, and by showing that you support this project you will also be sending them a very powerful message-that you support them as well.
We estimate this will cost around $300. If you can afford to donate anything, please do so-every little bit counts!
Please note that if you make a donation of $25 or more you will get one of these bracelets:
We are giving these bracelets to the victims and their families as well-so it can be one more way that you can show your solidarity and support.
4. Contribute to "We Are the 1 in 5"
The trial of Jerry Sandusky is going to be difficult for many survivors. Any time Child Sexual Abuse makes headlines, it brings back memories. For male survivors in particular, this case hits close to home.
This book of messages was the inspiration behind this Tumblr blog: We Are the 1 in 5. And you can show your support for ALL survivors of sexual abuse by participating in this project as well.
We Are the 1 in 5 is a way to send our messages of support for Jerry Sandusky's victims to all victims of child sexual abuse. It also is a way of breaking the silence and stigma that surrounds this issue. By saying "I am the 1 in 5" or "I stand with the 1 in 5", you show the world that you refuse to be ashamed or stay silent.
Guidelines for submitting to "We Are the 1 in 5" can be found here. But to give you an idea of what it is all about, here are some examples:
I would like to emphasize this point- It is especially important for men to to participate in both projects. I am sad to report that our male survivors are not doing well. They are faced with multiple barriers to disclosure and healing. The abuse itself is a stigma, and on top of that there is the stereotype that men are not supposed to be vulnerable. Whether their abuser was male or female, their sexuality is almost always brought into question. They are less likely to disclose, and more likely to commit suicide. Please let them know that they are not alone, and they have your support.
I will close with this-a quote from the diary I compiled back in January- “No One Spoke Up for Us": For The Children Who Had No Voice and For those finally finding Theirs
And finally for all of the boys who were victimized by an individual who's name I will not even tarnish this page with. The boys who were labled as troublemakers. Boys who were promised salvation and hope, only to be betrayed and brutalized by the very person who posed as your savior. The boys who were deemed less important than a legacy, who were powerless and left powerless by the most powerful men and women at a a most powerful institution. The boys who become men, and risked everything to tell the truth, so that no other child would suffer the same fate. We will never know how many of you suffered. We will never know most of your names, or see your faces. Those who are referred to as “Victim #__” in a grand jury indictment, and talked about like objects as their pain is laid bare by a media that cares more about headlines and sensationalism than how all of this feels for you. In the glare of the spotlight, you have been overshadowed. But not by us, not today. Today, especially, this is for you.For more information on the Sandusky trial, read Roxine's first hand account: Tree Climbers: In Judges Chambers with Jerry Sandusky
12:51 PM PT: Roxine has a great suggestion for those struggling with what to write:
"I Believe You"
Those three words carry much power for a survivor.
"I Believe You."