Yesterday, Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach at Penn State, was allowed to uncork a few zingers before he was sentenced to prison for at least 30 years — in other words, the rest of his life. In a meandering statement, Sandusky said, “It was a terrible feeling, my heart filled with tears. Many moments have been spent looking for a purpose. Maybe it will help others, some vulnerable children who may have been abused may not be because of all of the publicity.” As if a man now synonymous with kid rape can salvage his public image by talking about many moments spent looking for a dolphin.
But this post comes to bury Sandusky, not to discuss him. The new new thing in raping children is the Boy Scouts of America. I wrote about this last month and I’m writing about it again because this time, a new development exemplifies what life is like under the new administration. What we owe each other and what we owe the possible victims of child rape is to not just “see something, say something,” but “see something, scream at the top of your lungs to everyone you know.”
And this is what one attorney has done. Go tell it on the internet.
Tim Kosnoff has built an entire legal career out of suing child molesters, if his firm’s website is any indication. From the Catholic Church to the Latter-Day Saints to something called Boy Ranches (which, let’s face it, couldn’t not be havens for molestation), Kosnoff has gone after them all. You think the worst thing about the Salvation Army is the tintinnabulation that so musically wells? Marinate on this for a minute:
While the organization seeks to help individuals and families in need, it is also a breeding ground for sexual offenses against children and young adults. If the abuse within the institution is not confronted, many of these crimes will go unheard and the victims will be left without a voice.
(I think the phrase “breeding ground” is rather unfortunate in this context. I also think it’s usually physically impossible.)
But let’s get back to what brought me to the website of Kosnoff Fasy in the first place. The Oregonian published a story on Monday about Tim Kosnoff’s latest crusade, which involves posting on his firm’s website the names of 1,932 men who were expelled from the Boy Scouts of America for bad behavior. Some were kicked out for petty stuff like petty theft. Others were kicked out for gross stuff like (no, not gross negligence) child molestation. Kosnoff says that he posted the names to get the word out about child abusers who may still be lurking. The list is only from 1971-1991, but there are likely old scoutmasters still on the prowl out there who had previously, and perhaps secretly, been kicked out of the Scouts for child abuse. But there’s another reason for this doc dump. And it’s this:
Kosnoff is releasing his summary of his collection of “ineligible volunteer” files — but not the actual files — in anticipation of the release of a slightly different set of files. Sometime in the next few weeks, the Portland firm of O’Donnell, Clark & Crew plans to make public on its website files about 1,247 volunteers who were ousted from Scouting from 1965 to 1985.
Après Kosnoff, le déluge.
It’s easy to say that Kosnoff’s motives here are less-than-pure. He’s desperate to hold onto his firm’s ranking as the number one child rape law firm in the Pacific Northwest as voted on by J.D. Power and Associates. If ya ain’t first to release a huge file of child predators who were volunteers for the Boy Scouts, you’re last. Distilled into made-up rankings and lame pop culture references, Kosnoff’s actions make sense.
But does any of this make anyone safer? Does Kosnoff’s list, which includes his notes and looks like the least privileged privilege log ever created, help anyone? I don’t know. Maybe? But beyond the child rape law firm arms race, there’s a broader point to be made about where we are now. When a person is suspected of raping a child, that news must be broadcast out into the world. You cannot merely tell your superiors. You can’t go through the official channels or follow the chain of command and you definitely can’t exercise the slightest prudence. You must scream and if you have a website, that’s great. Because you’re going to need it. You may want to tweet this on your livejournal and then superpoke the police department to let them know about your blog entry that just got picked up by Huffington Post. There’s a new administration and it demands of you your hysteria. That sounds harsh, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing. It’s just a thing. This may sound over-the-top, but advice like this could have saved Joe Paterno’s life. Assuming his firing really did kill him and not the cancer.
Tim Kosnoff wants you to know about the Boy Scouts and about all the sad things that have happened under the auspices of the Boy Scouts. He’s prepared an easy-to-read and difficult-to-stomach spreadsheet at his website. In the comments, discuss merit badges.