Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence
I could go all day about how both are managed by male dominated-hierarchies and revered by millions of people.
Perhaps the most striking parallel, though, is how both allegedly had knowledge of ongoing sexual abuse of children within their ranks, yet chose not to inform law enforcement authorities.
Let’s expand on that last one, shall we?
Failing to alert the police might as well be as bad as committing the crime itself. Instead of protecting the victims, these people turned a blind eye—for years at a time. Instead of putting an end to the abuse, officials stepped aside and let the horrifying acts continue. In other words, these people remained mum all the way up the line, fostering a conspiracy of silence.
Little 15: A dark tale of first love
I tackle this elusive issue in my debut novel, Little 15: A dark tale of first love. In it, 15-year-old Lauren Muchmore falls into an affair with her basketball coach, who coerces her into sex. Eventually, the school finds out about the affair. But wanting to save face, school officials fail to protect Lauren or to bring the man to justice.
Thanks to my Catholic background, Lauren just so happens to attend a prestigious all-girl Catholic school in the story. But fiction or not, this sort of thing happens at all types of schools and institutions, public and private alike.
Here in the Dallas area, we’ve seen a rash of teacher-student sex cases in the news. But none have been so controversial as the one at Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD). Just a few weeks ago, a jury delivered a $9.2 million verdict against the reputable private school for its failure to protect a student from a sexual relationship with a teacher, then forcing her to withdraw after the relationship was discovered.
Tops officials at ESD have yet to be fired. But seeing how quickly Penn State cut loose its president and head football coach, one hopes that we are moving in the direction of more accountability.
Let’s cross our fingers that the Catholic Church is doing the same.
Share your thoughts
What do you think has caused the uptick of sex abuse scandals? Did anything go on like this when you were in school? Will the Penn State case make a positive difference in helping break the conspiracy of silence that sometimes plagues our educational and religious institutions?
You be the judge.