I’m in Las Vegas, surrounded by the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, who are breaking bread with Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan, and wondering, “When, oh when, will I ever find closure?” Okay, you’re not buying that one, are you? Well, stick with me for a moment! It will all make sense.
About a year after I re-released Wrestling Then and Now (see Gray Matters, Part Six), I get an email from Deanna Booher, the woman who played ‘Matilda the Hun’ on the 80’s TV sitcom, GLOW. We both shared the same post office box in Seal Beach. We met and, a few months later, I’m editing her book and maintaining her websites.
I had been working with her for a few months while, at the same time, helping a non profit devoted to assisting victims of institutional abuse. As a documentary was about to be released concerning GLOW, I divulged some details to the non profit leader regarding one of the websites I maintained. Since Booher had been a dominatrix prior to GLOW, I didn’t want anyone to be caught by surprise. That’s only common courtesy, right? Everyone should troubleshoot potential conflicts lest enemies of accountability discover these little tidbits of info.
Despite the fact that the videos and pictures I uploaded were shot over a decade ago by another party, and false ideas regarding sex and shame actually work in favor of child predators, it was deemed that I should resign. I was invited to join HEAL On-line, a loose confederacy of activists throughout the country devoted to exposing the abusive teen rehabilitation industry.
One thing I would like to mention before I return to the main subject:
Glamazon Queen Kong: My Life of Glitter, Guts, and Glory reveals that Ken, her husband, actually worked in a boys home. Here is an excerpt:
Ken graduated from UCLA with his B.A. and looked for work. He sent out hundreds of resumes and finally landed a job at a state school for boys in Whittier. He believed he could help the boys with positive reinforcement, and he took them loads of comic books to read. Together, we hosted fieldtrips for the boys and I could see they loved him. They were mostly from violent backgrounds and drug addicted parents. Ken and I both felt a reasonable loving approach with the delinquent boys was best.
We had faith in their goodness. This, however, was not acceptable behavior to the school staff, and Ken got fired for being “too nice.” He wouldn’t punch them or hit them over the head with his flash light as suggested, and therefore didn’t fit in with their idea of “supervision.”
This rejection took a major toll on Ken’s desire to seek further education or jobs in the world of psychology. “The social establishment” became even more repulsive, filled with more lies and bullshit. We hated ‘the system’ with ultra passion.
How they fought against the system is something you’ll have to read about in her book. I want to bring this to your attention to show that allies are coming from vastly different backgrounds. To discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or philosophy is drastically hurting the movement and making us ineffective. It’s as if we’re waiting for a ‘better class of victims’ before moving forward with protests and challenges.
There is a far more serious problem with advocacy. We hero worship too much! It’s like we’re waiting for some ‘abuse messiah’ to come down and finally take care of all the dirty enablers in the church. Unfortunately, the church (no matter Catholic or IFB) is the least of our problems. Our problems have to do with the root of all crimes done out of group think: us against them.
David Clohessy is the national director and spokesperson for SNAP. He was director of SNAP during the time his brother, Kevin, a priest for the Catholic church, had credible accusations against him for ‘inappropriate sexual conduct’. David sat on the information for awhile, telling victims only they could make a complaint. When a complaint was made, David called his brother and gave him a ‘heads up’. Perhaps such behavior is ‘forgiven’ when it’s a family member?
SNAP does have an article on their site addressing this matter. What’s left out of the SNAP release is the acknowledgement by Clohessy that he is indeed in a moral quagmire. He admits that he violated his ‘fundamental bottom line’ in this article from the New York Times.
If that’s not bad enough, Clohessy is currently risking jail time for his refusal to turn over documents regarding victims of sex abuse. The defense lawyers for Michael Tierney, a priest accused of abuse, believes the accuser’s attorney’s violated a gag order by leaking materials to SNAP. Clohessy did not answer questions during the deposition because he did not want to give the names of victims. And specifically, those who had ‘repressed memories’.
Commendable, but that’s one of the unspoken reasons that I have been given as to why the civil trials against Trinity came to an end! A possible leak to an individual or organization. Now, I’m curious about SNAP records!
If that’s not bad enough: what are we to make of SNAP founder Barbara Blaine? Her impassioned letter writing campaign on behalf of Dr. Steve Taylor, a psychiatrist who attempted to acquire child pornography seems to have bypassed the radar of advocates! Dr. Taylor told his computer consultant to get rid of ‘offensive material’. When his computer consultant saw what was to be deleted, he contacted the sheriff. Taylor was arrested. He had been scheduled to receive an award for his services to hospice, but the reward was cancelled.
It was suggested the images were planted on his computer. This is a viable theory considering the story of Geoffrey Hill, an advocate who accused the police in San Bernardino area of this very thing. He was arrested for allegedly having child pornography on his computer. He never got a chance to tell his side of the story. Hill’s body was found with a bullet hole through his chest in the Anza Borrego desert.
The problem with Taylor is that he told an examining psychiatrist that he downloaded the images for ‘clinical interest’. Taylor switched his story at the hearing and said he had no recollection of saying that. Either way, the defenses given by SNAP for Taylor practically mirror the same defenses the Catholic church gives concerning accused priests. That being the case, shouldn’t the rhetoric get toned down?
Taylor eventually plead ‘guilty’ to possessing over 100 images of child pornography on his computer. He has been sentenced to two years in prison.
Child advocacy is a dangerous world. You might see web pages with misty eye’d pictures of children, but the stakes are high. When I first began blogging about this subject, I sensed this and tried to distance myself from the word ‘advocate’. Activist, in the fundamentalist world, isn’t exactly an endearing term either. Nobody is an ‘activist’ in fundamentalism. Fundamentalists have ‘ministries’. Yet, I’d rather be known as an activist than an advocate or minister. Especially a non credentialed advocate.
This seven part series on Gray Matters began with a shock that Boz from GRACE, even though he’s front and center at Liberty Law (a ministry of Thomas Road Baptist Church) claimed that GRACE did not know Bob Gray. It ends with a shock about SNAP going overboard to keep a psychiatrist, who downloaded child pornography, from justice. I truly feel justified in saying, the experts have let us down!
If you watched the YouTubes included in this series, you have seen the results of independent investigations. An independent investigation conducted at Trinity revealed ‘Our attorneys found no indication of a cover up either deliberate or unintentional’. This, in spite of Tom Messer’s letter detailing the years they knew about Gray’s molestations and the fact they did nothing. David Gibbs, of the Christian Law Association, is responsible for hiring those investigators.
Those who follow such cases know that CLA is biased for the churches. Of course, they’re going to say that! Most independent studies, like the ones conducted by the Catholic church for instance, tend to favor the institution that paid for it. So, I’m supposed to sit on my hands and let survivors treat GRACE like the white hats coming in for the rescue, when the reality will most likely be a minor bruise at BJU followed by the insult, “Hey! Grace already took care of it!”
The New Tribe Mission boarding schools are still open. A few bad guys got fingered for abuse. Some are still there. Grace could not find any reason why those homes shouldn’t remain open! The system is still in place. No one seems to question why it is even necessary to separate children from parents on the mission field. They seem to agree there will be emotional problems if children are separated from parents, so now they just want to minimize the damage?
What about Mr. and Mrs. Penner? They were written up for abusive contact with children. Mrs. Penner allegedly slapped children in the face and had a child ‘drink their own vomit’ when the child refused to eat. GRACE agrees those are abusive acts. Penner’s explanation is the child spit sausage into the cup and that does not constitute ‘vomit’. Either way, with all the slappings in the face, GRACE does not recommend she get fired. Don’t we all feel better, now? Will there be another independent study if and when the next New Tribe boarding school scandal breaks out?
When the Bob Gray scandal broke, I remember thinking, “Trinity is different! It’s not going to be handled like the cases in the Catholic church!” People even posted their belief that Bob Gray would actually confess his guilt in court. He never did, in spite of private apologies to victims. I was disappointed that Trinity didn’t react any differently than other scandalized churches.
If it makes you feel better, you should know that I have begun a campaign asking those from The Roc to contact GRACE. If GRACE was ignorant about Bob Gray (I’m sure they know now!), I don’t want to chance them being ignorant about the ministries in their own back yard.
My enemy is not necessarily the fundamentalists. The enemy is our complicity in covering for those who would abuse children. If the only reason activists and advocates haven’t distanced themselves from SNAP or certain Facebook Advocates is because ‘they’re are only hope!‘, we have a problem. The enemy becomes obscured anytime a group or individual misleads or omits serious facts regarding those within their ranks who might abuse a child.
Let’s not sacrifice the very ideals we claim to stand for to preserve an organization. Even if that organization claims to be for us. If we do, then principle has left the building and it is truly ‘us against them‘.