by Patrick Perion
Patrick Perion is a child abuse investigator in Illinois who wrote a great piece for us about the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow case.
In what can only be described as the worst kind of sensationalism, NBC's Today Show host, Matt Lauer conducted an interview of Dottie Sandusky, the wife of convicted child rapist, Jerry Sandusky. As most people with a brain would surmise, Mrs. Sandusky thinks her husband is innocent despite being found guilty of 47 counts of child sexual abuse.
The interview was conducted at the Sandusky home. Sitting next to to a forlorn and tearful Sandusky was John Ziegler, noted grifter, scam artist and Joe Paterno apologist. While the interview as ostensibly about Sandusky, Ziegler was able to work in " the unjust firing of Joe Paterno" about halfway through.
The entire thing was distasteful for many reasons.
Dottie Sandusky said her husband is innocent of the chargers against him. They're not charges, he was convicted. Ziegler said he's met with Sandusky and now believes he's innocent. Even Matt Lauer got in on the fun, at one point outside the basement bedroom in which at least one boy was raped, Lauer said that "this is the bedroom in which some of the accusers say the abuse happened". Sorry Matt, they're not accusers, they're victims and they don't say things happened. They happened. Sandusky was convicted.
I have known many Dottie Sanduskys in 20 years of child abuse investigation. It may sound incredible to the average person, but there are spouses every day who don't believe their spouse sexually abused a child. The number of spouses/paramours who believe the adult over the child would truly shock most of you. I don't know if Dottie is naive, mentally ill, in denial or all of the above. What I do know is that her response wasn't a surprise to me.
What was a surprise was NBC's decision to green light the story. They gave a fringe element of truly horrible people led by the Snidely Whiplash of Paterno apologists, John Ziegler, a national platform. The entire interview ran for 51 minutes. 51 minutes of calling the victims liars, Dottie: "I didn't say they lied, I said I don't believe their story". 51 minutes of calling the victims grifters, again Dottie: "I think they were manipulated by the lawyers for money". 51 minutes of Ziegler saying things like "Its not PC to call a victim a liar".
My question for all involved is simple. Do you have any idea how hard it is for victims, especially male victims to disclose sexual abuse? I do. Hundreds of children have told me about their sexual abuse. Without exaggeration, boys who were abused as adolescents are almost impossible to get to disclose.
Current statistics indicate that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys have been or are being sexually abused. The numbers are skewed because of the lack of disclosure by boys. Boys often don't tell because the stigma that can be attached to their abuse. Unfortunately society teaches boys to be tough and being violated is the antithesis of being tough in their minds. Getting them to tell what happened takes patience and skill.
Now imagine that you've disclosed a horrible thing. You've survived a long and contentious trial. Your abuser was found guilty, and a major network calls into question your honesty, your motivation, and allows two people to continue peddling a narrative that is completely false. Imagine how you'd feel when Dottie Sandusky hinted at "evidence that can't be revealed yet".
Victims already feel shame because they were abused. Victims blame themselves without any help from the media. If you were a victim and hadn't disclosed, would the treatment of the Sandusky victims by Lauer and NBC make you more or less likely to tell?
What Lauer and NBC fail to realize, or maybe they realize it and don't care, child sexual abuse cases are almost always about child disclosure vs. perpetrator denial. There is seldom physical evidence or confessions. In the Sandusky case, a jury heard the testimony of the victims and found Sandusky guilty. This is not a case in which "both sides" are valid.
Jerry Sandusky is an evil man, his wife is either a naif, a patsy or a co-conspirator. John Ziegler is the lowest form of human sleeze, one step removed from the pedophile he supports. They don't get to argue their 'side' of the story because their side is a lie.
Unfortunately, for the victims of Sandusky and victims everywhere, NBC, The Today Show and Matt Lauer decided that lie needed 51 minutes.