Archive for February, 2018

Gunther Fiek and Larry Nassar

February 10, 2018

Nobody in their right mind would claim Larry Nassar is innocent after 150-plus women testified so powerfully at his sentencing hearing. But Gunther Fiek, the Larry Nassar of Georgia, still has supporters who claim he is innocent, even after being convicted of eighteen counts of child molestation and three counts of aggravated child molestation. Fiek was a martial arts instructor at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia. Days before his sentencing he said: “Maybe I did touch the kids in some way, maybe inappropriately. But it wasn’t with intent or for sexual purposes.” Wasn’t with intent? He unintentionally touched kids inappropriately, over and over again? Hardly a denial. But apparently good enough for some people. So what if he was “more touchy with my students than I should have been.”

If you want to see the face of sex-abuse denial in American today, it is an organization with the Orwellian name, the National Center for Reason and Justice. Under their version of “reason” and “justice,” a man who admitted touching children inappropriately is somehow the victim. Then again, this organization also supports Paul Shanley, who offered the same twisted defense that Nassar did when he said “those girls kept coming back.” If you read their defense of Fiek, which never mentions his admission, it boils down to children were “interrogated” (in other words, asked questions) and that “elicited accusations” (in other words, evidence of guilt). But the word of a child is never enough with NCRJ. Neither is the word of eighteen children. Even when the man admits he touched them “inappropriately.”

This is hardly a fringe group. Professor Elizabeth Loftus is one of their advisors. I wonder if she read this article:

 

 

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The Disgraceful Discounting of a Larry Nassar Victim

February 3, 2018

Most people who watched the Larry Nassar sentencing hearing were moved by the courage and pain of his victims. Some of the women could not bear to appear in person. A court official read Annette M. Hill’s letter. Hill, a former MSU athlete, was particularly critical of the MSU administration because, as her letter said: “If they had only taken action on the first report, it would have saved me and all the other athletes standing before us today from a life of pain and agony.” Hill reported being suicidal.

In a disgraceful essay just posted online, freelance writer Mark Pendergrast declared that Hill probably has “illusory memories.”

Why? Because Ms. Hill said she had “suppressed” her memories of these events for years. Pendergrast has been on a mission to discredit any abuse claim that might be associated with repressed memory since his two adult daughters cut him off in the early 1990s. But Hill did not say that she recovered her memory in therapy. (Nor is there any evidence that was true of his daughters.) Hill just used the word “suppress.” Which is probably what many other victims of Nassar did. 

In this cultural moment when it seems that victims of sexual abuse might stop being discounted and dismissed unfairly, Mark Pendergrast reminds us that there are still people all too willing to dismiss victims without cause.

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How have critics responded to my book?

February 2, 2018

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