The only time I can publicly speak about my specific work and cases I hear/see at the Advocacy Center is when I am subpoenaed and called to testify in court. I recently went to testify in a case last week. Trials are open to the public and after the case has closed, the verdicts are public record. While I won’t go into details about the case here, I will refer you to the article that was written back in October 2017 when these two adult brothers were arrested for multiple charges of sexual assault/abuse of a child (continuous sexual abuse, aggravated sexual assault, indecency by contact). Click here for one of the original articles. https://www.wacotrib.com/news/police/robinson-police-arrest-men-in-child-sexual-abuse-investigation/article_e2d32715-121e-5030-a9b1-724ff4640349.html.
Multiple news outlets reported the same. I remember seeing comments on Facebook and television news website posts that horrified me. Comments like “the girl deserved it, she’s a ***** (insert demeaning name)” or “I’ve known them my whole life, they would never” or “the girl is making it up to get back at them for something” or “she’s a liar.” Certainly, these defendants are innocent until proven guilty. But in the court of public opinion, it seemed as if the victim was the one on trial, not these two adult men. Read the details in the article closely. The girl was 14 but said it had been going on for at least 10 months (so likely she was 13 years old). In what world does a 13 or 14 year old girl “deserve it” when we’re talking about sexual abuse at the hands of 2 adult men? Does it make a difference that 2 more victims were involved in the case and additional charges added for an 8 year old victim? https://www.wacotrib.com/news/police/new-charge-added-against-man-indicted-on-child-sexual-abuse/article_d908ca2e-2ba7-5701-a6aa-0d27bda5d89c.html
Let’s skip ahead to the end of story, oftentimes the best part. October 2017, Mark Jones pleaded guilty to 4 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, one count of sexual assault of a child, and one count of indecency with a child by exposure. PLEADED GUILTY and was sentenced to 35 years each on counts 1-4, 20 years on count 5, and 10 years on count 6. PLEADED GUILTY and is in prison.
And the final chapter, April 4, 2019, George Jones was FOUND GUILTY of continuous sexual abuse of a child, sexual assault of a child, and indecency by contact. A jury of his peers listened to horrific details of how he and his brother sexually abused multiple victims and ultimately BELIEVED THE SURVIVORS. How could they not? The victims were under the age of 14. G. Jones was sentenced to 30 years on count 1, 10 years on count 2, and 5 years on count 3.
No news outlet printed the END OF THE STORY! They left the public to make assumptions. So there it is, friends. The end of the story.
So in this month of April, Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, what can we learn? What can we do? What can we say? The court of public opinion (i.e. social media commenters who seem to “know everything” without knowing anything) will make blanket statements about a case. Remember these are children we’re talking about. Children who only disclose <40% of the time when they are being sexually abused. Children who are afraid of disclosing because they fear being doubted, blamed, shamed, accused, or threatened. Children who don’t want to go through the emotions of having to testify years later and face their abuser again. And yet they do. With shaky voices and tearful eyes, but clear hearts and clear minds. Why? Because they want justice. They want closure. They want healing. They want to protect other children. They want their story heard.
So let’s give them justice. Let’s give them closure. Let’s give them healing. Let’s hear their stories and let’s say “I believe you.” Thank you McLennan County jury for doing that last week. Thank you McLennan County District Attorney’s office prosecutors Will Hix and Staci Scaman for doing that last week. Let’s pray the epilogue of the story shows these survivors thriving and moving on to a better life.
Thank you, and as always, empower your kids and stay safe!
Soo Battle, M.D., F.A.A.P.