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Sex Crimes Accusations: Witch Hunts v. Cover Ups

15-Oct-2012

Last week, closing a chapter in one of the nation's biggest sex crime scandals, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison.  The sentence is effectively a life sentence for the 68-year-old Sandusky, who was convicted on 45 counts of molesting at least 10 young boys.  Sandusky continues to maintain his innocence and says he plans to appeal.

One of the most shocking aspects of the Sandusky case is the alleged cover-up of the sexual abuse, including a failure to report suspected sexual assault and rape after at least two university employees told school administrators they witnessed the abuse.  The alleged cover-up brought about the downfall of legendary Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, who died early this year, and brought criminal charges against two university administrators. Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley are awaiting trial in January 2013, on charges of failing to report abuse and lying to a grand jury.  Prosecutors say the men knew about the alleged abuse as early as 1998, and their failure to act resulted in more than a decade of continued serial sex abuse.

Perhaps the alleged cover-up is so shocking to the public, in part, because sex abuse allegations are generally handled swiftly.  Often, a sex abuse claim is enough to bring immediate and swift consequences to the accused.  A person accused of sexual abuse of children may face immediate job suspension, removal from his or her own home, and prohibited contact with the accuser.  These ramifications of an accusation of sexual abuse occur long before a person is tried before the courts and his or her guilt or innocence is proven.  For some people, such an allegation results in the destruction of a career and a family, even without evidence to support a claim, and even if the case is eventually dismissed or a defendant is acquitted at trial.

In the Sandusky case, however, the accused was allowed to continue to have access to the university facilities, and he was able to have continued access to young boys through his Second Mile Foundation, a youth charity which some have called a "breeding ground" for potential victims.  

On a local level, employees of a Tulsa church are now dealing with the consequences of failing to swiftly report allegations of rape and sexual abuse.  Employees of Victory Christian Center are accused of waiting two weeks to report a 13-year-old girl's claim that she was raped in a stairwell at the church by another employee.  At least five employees are accused of failing to immediately report the girl's rape claim.  Two church employees, 20-year-old Chris Denman and 23-year-old Israel Shalom Castillo, are accused of sex crimes involving at least three victims, though authorities say they have failed to make contact with one of the alleged victims, and the parents of another are refusing to cooperate with police.

In order to preserve justice, a balance must be struck in order to protect victims from potential abusers while protecting the rights of the defendant.  Neither a witch-hunt nor a cover-up is an appropriate response to accusations of sexual abuse.  

For more information about sex crimes defense in Oklahoma, please visit http://www.oklahomalegalgroup.com/sex-crimes.
 



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