Below is an excerpt from my new ebook, Echoes of Penn State: Facing Sexual Trauma followed by a quick update on the latest updates in this ongoing case.
“The allegations arising out of the Penn State debacle are a microcosmic reflection of our world today. We can’t turn on the news without hearing some sort of horrific sexual violence being committed against a child or teenager. It is time to take action to ensure that all children are provided with services, safety, and awareness. Undoubtedly, most people are running the gamut of emotions ranging from anger, fear, sadness, frustration, and even apathy. We have watched grown men on national television break down in tears over the awful nature of these acts. Surely, some of us have had similar breakdowns in the privacy of our homes while trying to comprehend the ramifications these crimes will have on the children. My hope is that each and every child and adult who comes forward is provided with unconditional support.
I had hoped the decisions of the Penn State victims to remain anonymous, as they have chosen to do at this point, would be understood and honored. Sadly, this has not happened. These victims have been put through a hellish ordeal thus far, and they have yet to enter the courtroom.”
My organization, Victim/Witness Assistance Program along with several state and national organizations including Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Crime Victim Law Institute partnered with some of the victims attorney’s in this case to file an amicus brief on the victims behalf. This request to the court asked that the victims are allowed to use aliases in the courtroom allowing their identities to remain from hidden from the general public and the media.
The defense had no problem with this request, raised no eyebrow and didn’t object so we thought we were good as gold to protect these victims. To allow them one simple request among the many requests that Jerry Sandusky has submitted and been granted. Boy, we were wrong. When it came time for the judge to rule on the brief–it was the actual prosecutor who stood up and voiced an objection to the request citing “no legal grounds”. Are you kidding me? The one person in that courtroom who is supposed to be on the side of the crime victim–stood up against them and with that objection the judge ruled against it. I don’t even think the judge fully considered it after the prosecutor objected, after all the judge takes his cue on the victims rights from the prosecutor since that is technically one of their main functions–represent the commonwealth and the VICTIM.
It was a huge slap in the face to the victims who sought this one simple request. Can you even imagine what it feels like to have no one on your side in a courtroom of your own rape trial? How lonely, how unsupported or cared about these victims feel right now is just another layer of victimization they are having to endure. This is not how our system is supposed to work. Our laws are set up, albeit, slimly to ensure our victims are protected. Even though this judge said in court weeks ago, that these victims aren’t victims until there is a conviction–he needs to brush up on the PA Crime Victims Act as that extends to any person who makes a claim of victimization and affords them rights and services regardless of the outcome of a criminal or juvenile case.
This case from start to finish has been one that has harmed the victims in this case, how much more are they to endure. Next week thankfully, they will take the stand and begin to get their day in court but the antics by the defense that they are sure to be subjected too will be horrific and now they have no faith in the prosecutor who is supposed to be there to protect them. Very sad turn of events. I can only hope that this case will serve as a means to educate the masses about what victims endure and why we must make changes in how victims are treated.
While the defendant remains innocent until proven guilty, the victims should also remain protected and believed until proven otherwise.