Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
This moment in history, it seems, is when mankind will be forced to grapple with a child sexual abuse problem that is far worse than many of us imagined.
Since former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested in early November and charged with molesting at least eight boys over a 15-year period, we have seen a constant stream of stories about sexual horrors perpetrated on children.
Many of the stories have centered on boys and athletics--in Syracuse University basketball, Canadian hockey, AAU basketball, and even sports journalism. But the problem hardly is limited to those who prey on boys through sports. Here in Alabama, former teacher and church leader Daniel M. Acker Jr. has admitted to molesting 21 girls since the early 1990s
What has all of this taught us? For one, it's not just an American problem; it is international in scope. For another, the problem is hard to grasp because many victims are unwilling or unable to speak out. Some victims fear they will not be believed. Others fear they will bring shame to themselves or their families. For some, the psychological trauma is so severe that they struggle to function, haunted by depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, and thoughts of suicide. For others, memories of the abuse are repressed, causing statutes of limitations to pass before law-enforcement officials can even try to take action.
One victim with ties to Alabama has found his voice--and he is using the Web to share his story. Jason Lee, a 36-year-old former Birmingham-area resident, was molested repeatedly over a five-year period. Charles Donald Corley (photo above), a respected leader in Boy Scouts and at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood, was convicted in 1995 of molesting Lee and two other boys.
"The bottom line is, I was just a kid and he used me as a sex toy," Lee told The Birmingham News.
Corley, who was 45 at the time of his conviction, received a 30-year sentence. But he comes up for parole on January 31. Lee and other victims have established a Web site, 30is30.com, to tell their stories and push for Corley to serve his full sentence.
Visitors to 30is30.com can click on "One Victim's Testimony" and learn about Lee's experience. It is compelling reading, to be sure:
I think there are two kinds of child molesters. One is the trench-coat-wearing, playground-stalking, child-stealing kind of person. He's quick and violent. The other kind is the serial molester--he embeds himself in the community, wins the trust of families and children, and abuses that position of power to commit the molestation. Don Corley is the second type.- Advertisement -
After my parents split up when I was 12, he saw my pre-teen vulnerability, befriended my family and presented himself as someone who could be a father figure to me. I was invited to hang out at his house, go on vacations with him, babysit his children. I won't get into the details, but the molestation started under the pretense of trying to "educate me" on sexual issues. I was young enough and naive enough to believe him.
Lee says the abuse continued until his senior year at Homewood High School. Upon graduation, he went to a university two states away and tried to put the past behind him. But the Homewood Police Department contacted him one day, and Lee decided to open up: