Duggar, Hasert, Wehmeyer and the Ghost of Sexual Abuse

It was recently made public that Josh Duggar, oldest son, one of 19 siblings, in the hit TLC show “19 and Counting” sexually abused several female members of his family as a young teen.

CNN then recently reported….

“Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert has pleaded not guilty to all charges related to lying to the FBI about $3.5 million he agreed to pay to an undisclosed subject to “cover up past misconduct.”

Hastert was arraigned in court in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, amid reports he allegedly abused former students.”

And then Minneapolis….

On Friday, Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi leveled six counts at the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He accused it of encouraging, causing or contributing to the sexual abuse of three victims by a priest, Curtis Wehmeyer,  in 2010 and 2011.

Each count is a “gross misdemeanor,” and each carries a maximum of one year in prison and/or a $3,000 fine. The complaint focuses on abuse by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, but it and an accompanying document say his case was just one of many that the archdiocese let slide.

These stories speak to a ghost of sexual abuse that travels through our culture. The impact is devasting, heartbreaking – often lasting quite literally a lifetime.

The fall from grace for those whom we judge should be “better” is dramatic. It makes for news that is hard to turn away from.

There is no way to excuse their actions.

And a warning appears to be prudent.  We need to be leary of the circus around such allegations. Public shaming is, simply put, dangerous business, even when it appears deserved.  It places problem “out there” and “over there” and becomes a convenient, alluring distraction from looking at our own lives and our own communities as we seek to become a healing presence in the world.

The ghost of sexual abuse is deep.  What happened in these three situations … horrific.   Healing comes from a true accounting legally and otherwise for the offenders as well as the best care available for the victims.  And we have our bit to play as well in creating a healing culture, a culture maybe a bit less sexualized, maybe a bit more protective of children.  Lets have that conversation as well.



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