Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
I feel inspired to write to you today because of Bouncin' Barb's post called Things That Really Irk Me Friday. I imagine you'll want to read this post for yourself, but to sum it up quickly, Barb writes about sexual predators – the kind who go after children.
I may have alluded to my friend's story in earlier posts, but I don't think I've ever told the entire story.
This unfortunate occurrence happened quite a few years ago in another state. I had a friend, let's call her "Jo". Jo had a daughter who was a freshman in high school. Let's call Jo's daughter "Missy".
Missy was on the track team at her high school, so she stayed after school everyday to practice. Jo would come to Missy's practice to watch, and to be there to take Missy home as soon as practice was over.
Missy hated having Jo hang around. She begged her mom to let her call when practice was over, and Jo would make the short drive to the school then. The assistant coach said that he would stay with Missy while she waited for her mom. Wouldn't leave her alone for a second.
A man – I almost hate to call him a man because it suggests he's a human being and I'm not sure that's really the case – had been released from prison recently, where he had languished for a while after raping a child. The police found him hanging around an elementary school and shooed him away, but didn't arrest him even though he was not allowed to be in the vicinity of a school.
So the rapist moved over to the high school to see what delicacies might turn up.
The very first day that Jo and Missy began their new arrangement, Missy called Jo. Jo headed for the school. The assistant track coach did not stay with Missy as promised. Missy was waiting outside the high school, right next to a door. A man approached Missy. God, this is hard to write.
Missy went through the door into the school, but no one was in the vicinity. The man followed Missy into the school, pushed her into a restroom, and raped her. He left. Jo arrived and found Missy, sobbing on the floor.
They called the police. The police knew who the guy was and where to find him. He was arrested right away, convicted of rape, and sentenced to so many years in prison without possibility of parole that there was no way he would leave prison alive.
But it's not as if a girl is raped, the guy is convicted, and then everything is over. This act had major repercussions. Jo and Missy went to counseling for years. Every year, around the time she'd been raped, Missy became suicidal.
Her school really, really fucked up in the way they handled the situation. The newspaper reported that a student at the high school had been raped. No one knew who it was, and, of course, the newspaper didn't publish Missy's name.
But the next day, all the teachers told their students that it was Missy who had been raped, and to just treat her normally when she returned to school.
Missy couldn't be treated normally. Her life wasn't normal anymore. Normal did not exist for Missy.
How dare they violate her privacy that way?
Missy did not go back to school for months. Jo took a month off from her job as an office manager so she could be with Missy. The doctor for whom she worked used it as an excuse to fire Jo. Jo thought he wanted to get rid of her because she'd been there so long that she was earning more than the doctor really wanted to pay her.
Jo couldn't get another job that paid 40k. She went to work at a convenience story. Jo and Missy had to move to a less expensive house. Missy was miserable in school. She couldn't hang out with other kids. She was too frightened. Jo and Missy were scared all the time. Every time the phone rang and they heard an unidentified man's voice, they were terrified. They had to stop answering the phone.
Jo was guilt ridden because she had agreed to pick up Missy when track practice ended. No disciplinary action was taken against the assistant coach who had promised he wouldn't leave Missy.
For Missy's senior year in high school, Jo moved them into a house in a small town not too far from where they had been living, but it meant that Missy would attend a different high school – a high school where everyone didn't see her as the girl who had been raped.
Toward the end of the school year, Missy began to relax a bit. She started doing teenager things like going to a movie with a group of friends.
Jo got a job at the nursing home where I worked. I helped train her for her new job. Jo and I became quite close and eventually, she told me what had happened to Missy and how they still suffered from it. They had a certain length of time – I don't remember how long it was – during which they could file a law suit against the school district. Jo was reluctant to move forward with the law suit because of the publicity.
I don't know what they decided to do. I had to move and leave my friend behind. We stayed in touch for about a year, but then she just seemed to disappear. Her phone was disconnected. I've Googled her name and her daughter's name, and haven't been able to find either one of them. Letters I sent to their address were returned to me because they no longer lived there. I can't find anything about them in the newspaper's archive.
Now I've told you this long story, and all I can really say is that I'm with Bouncin' Barb in wondering what to do about people who prey on children.
They have to report their addresses to the police, but they can move and no one notices most of the time. Then they strike again.
In a world as technologically advanced as ours, why can't we keep track of child molesters?
Infinities of love,
P.S. I hope I was able to comfort Jo at least a bit. She said that many parents had attacked her verbally and said that Missy's rape was Jo's fault because Jo should have been there when track practice ended. At the time of the rape, I was the managing editor of a small newspaper. I told Jo that I had never heard anyone say anything negative about her, and, in fact, our publisher had said he'd love to use a baseball bat on the rapist.