I’ve been thinking about the news article noted below and its impact for days now. Scott R, longtime Middlebury College staff member and IT wiz, has been charged with owning and viewing child pornography. My initial response was deep grief for the abused children, who were forced to pose for and participate in sexually explicit photos. My thoughts also run to the other end of the spectrum - that “innocent until proven guilty” must prevail because that’s the law.
First - a little about Scott - the short version: a reliable source discovers Scott possesses a shit-ton of child pornography on his personal laptop. This source reports to the Fed’s because he says the material discovered was blatantly disturbing. The local animal welfare organization, in late May, depicted Scott readying to hike the Long Trail in support of homeless animals. It’s true, we humans are a complicated lot.
At the core of this matter lies a most egregious, horrific behavior supported by an industry that, albeit, legally distributes adult films; but it extends to the kidnapping and abuse of children who are then forced out of their innocence by bad adults in order to serve said adults by being made to participate in sex acts that belittle and destroy. I doubt anyone will argue when I say most of these children never recover emotionally, their hearts and souls ruined by greed and perversion and fed by individuals who have gone to great and skillful lengths to hide their criminal predilections via a computer. Scott hid behind a screen from the rest of the world, with hopes of never being found out. He was good at his game until someone with the right tools and an even better game, came along. And that person in good conscience, and at risk of personal legal ramifications due to his own investigatory computer ops, (I urge you to read the linked article below if you havent already.) reported Scott to the FBI.
I can only imagine what events transpired in his early life that propelled Scott toward this need to participate in such a criminal act.
I remember him once upon a time…he must have been 25 years old, in line at the village bakery early morning, a quiet meanderer who seemed nice enough. Scott worked in the computer business. Though I did not know him personally, I sensed he was lonesome, somewhat shy for a nice-looking man. Or was it this deep secret that caused him to struggle when attempting eye contact with others? I’m not the only person who noticed it. What led him to this addiction? I vacillate between my outrage over endangered children to “did this happen to him as a child?” Monstrous behavior by a sex offender is not created in a vacuum. Who hurt him?
He safeguarded his behavior, though. He went covert so as not to be stopped from viewing. He worked hard to avoid discovery, covered his tracks, secured his laptop, prided himself on his computer expertise - his tech-geekiness paying off with the ability to live underground. The diligence and time directed toward watching abused children for his own twisted intentions would have continued throughout his entire life had he not been caught.
But enough about this sick boy. What of the children whose lives have been forever changed, their bodies attacked and their souls and hearts broken? One day they played in a schoolyard; the next, coerced away from their home somehow. They were first graders, then gone. This is what matters. Not the “ew, Scott’s a perv” or “the courts should hang him.” The gossip means nothing. However the courts penalize him, should he be found guilty, it will never compare to the damage experienced by the innocents.
I invite you to take a moment and go there - immerse your thoughts in what actually occurs. The predator stalks, abducts, coaches, and forces. The kids miss their families. They probably cry themselves to sleep at night. Some of them have been drugged. Sometimes they are punished and cruelly treated. Some of them may get a pat on the head and $5, and are sent home, instructed not to give away the “secret” to their mothers. These kids live misery, confusion, and pain while the viewer remains in their safe home, comfortably seated in front of a screen.
When I think of them, one of my anthems comes to mind: DONT GET ME STARTED.
Priests have abused children with the church’s awareness for years. Altar boys were easy access, harmed forever by criminal priests. I recall a story featured in local news about a parish priest who was arrested the day after my daughter’s first communion, the Eucharist administered by the man who had been assaulting altar boys at the rectory. My mom, a sincere Catholic, was so convinced of the church’s good-entity status (instead of a church that moved priests from diocese to diocese like chess pieces so no one would learn of the attacks,) that all she could say with a wistful sigh was, “that’s why we need to pray for priests.” Pray for the priests? Did my mom see my jaw drop? And what about the kids, mom??? I opted to pray for the kids. I was 13.
John Grisham, lawyer turned author, has spoken up on behalf of these offenders who “look and don’t touch.” “These men get drunk, they get lost in the web of child porn and - boom, FBI arrest with a three-year jail sentence,”claims Grisham. “They never touched a child, they just watched. “Operative word “JUST” as in “only.” How does he think these children wound up in the photos and films? A watcher is a willing and aware participant who fully supports the intentions of those who abduct and kidnap. It’s a sex ring of fire that must be put out. Scott needs help. He also needed to be stopped, I’m grateful that he has been.
I took a stand when I was 13, a stand that will continue until I die. Or better yet, sooner - on a day when these child victims are no longer created.