On Friday, June 22, 2012, the verdicts were announced in two important child molestation trials that had been going on simultaneously in Pennsylvania:
Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant football coach of Penn State University, was convicted of 45 of the 48 child molestation charges against him. And, Monsignor William J. Lynn was found guilty of essentially contributing to a cover-up of sexual predators among Catholic priests in the archdiocese of Philadelphia. The priests had been molesting children for years. Lynn was the first high-ranking church official to be prosecuted for failing to protect children.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported on both of these cases extensively. You can read more about them here:
In both of these cases, sordid details of men using their positions of prestige and power to seduce and manipulate children were aired in public. The eight young men who testified in the Jerry Sandusky trial were incredibly brave, and prosecutors in the church trial were able to introduce into evidence decades worth of rape and molestation charges. For victims everywhere, many of whom probably thought they would never be believed or see any modicum of justice, the verdicts are great victories.
But here is the real change brought about by these trials: Big, powerful institutions are now on notice. They can no longer sacrifice the innocents in order to preserve their reputations and protect their treasuries. Whether it is the Holy Roman Catholic Church or Penn State Football, the hierarchies will be held responsible for the crimes of their representatives.
According to the Inquirer, since priest abuse allegations first started surfacing in the mid-1980s, more than 3,000 civil lawsuits have been filed, and the Catholic Church has paid out more than $3 billion in settlements. Dioceses have closed parishes and sold property to cover the costs. The Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, filed for bankruptcy.
Penn State University, with two officials already indicted for perjury related to the Sandusky case, anticipates more criminal proceedings and an onslaught of civil suits. The university has already embarked on damage control. As soon as Sandusky was declared guilty, the university announced a program to offer cash settlements to the victims.
Read: Bob Ford: In Sandusky case, Penn State tries to get ahead of civil actions, on Philly.com.
(By the way, more Sandusky victims, besides the 10 listed in the trial, have come forward. Read: Jerry Sandusky trial did not include all of his alleged victims, on ABCNews.go.com.)
So, for all of us at Lovefraud, all of us who have been manipulated, molested and abused, these verdicts are worth celebrating. Evil was exposed. Evildoers are going to prison. Enablers of evil are paying the price for averting their eyes, shutting their mouths and failing to act.
All of us who are fighting the good fight should feel encouraged. Perhaps the time is coming when we can go up against the rich and powerful—and win.