Posts Tagged Sex abuse denial

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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Frank Fuster and Mark Pendergrast

January 28, 2018

Frank Fuster’s defenders, undeterred by the mountains of evidence against him (see the entire ch. 5 of The Witch-Hunt Narrative), continue to make false statements about his convictions (plural) for child sexual abuse. The most recent example is Mark Pendergrast’s claim that Frank Fuster’s conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct was wrongful because Fuster “passed two lie detector tests, but the jury was never told” (Memory Warp, p. 213). Pendergrast, who holds himself out as an “independent scholar,” provided no citation for this claim. In an earlier publication, however, he attributed this assertion to nothing more than an interview with Frank Fuster himself.

But there is no evidence in the court file that Fuster ever took a lie detector test or tried to get one entered at trial, where he declined to take the stand. The only test results in the court file are the MMPI tests that found him to be “compulsive and paranoid” with a “strong need to see himself as extremely virtuous.” 

Moreover, a careful examination of court records in Fuster’s 1985 case demonstrates that Frank Fuster is a compulsive liar. Take his 1969 arrest for shooting man to death after a minor traffic accident, all witnessed by a off-duty police officer. Fuster pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in that case. But in the Country Walk case, he testified “when I was twenty years old, couple of months before becoming  New York City police officer, I’m accused of being a murderer.” He also claimed that the off-duty officer “set him up.”

But Fuster was not training to be a police officer; he was a salesman at the Minx Fur Company! As his parole report indicates: “much of the information [Fuster] provides differs from that available” in court records. “It does not appear that he accepts full responsibility for killing the victim.” (See pp. 339-341 of The Witch-Hunt Narrative for details and citations). Indeed, Fuster testified at his Parole Revocation Hearing in 1985  that his manslaughter conviction was actually “a crime that did not take place.” 

There is much more. Fuster actually testified in the Country Walk case that there was no day care center in his house, even though there clearly was. He claimed not to own masks that were found in his home and that adults had seen him wear. This is the man who Mark Pendergrast accepts at face value. One wonders whether Pendergrast knew some of these facts and chose to ignore them, or whether he never did the research in the first place.


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Roy Moore, Paul Shanley, and the NCRJ

November 30, 2017

Most people agree that the now-famous allegations against Roy Moore constitute the kind of sexually predatory behavior for which there is no excuse. Thirty-year olds should not be trying to have sex with teenagers. But this case has been spun by some as a story about the moral defects of the Right. “The capacity of Republican voters to overlook and justify credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault cannot be overstated,” they intoned over at Slate. 

But the capacity of a certain kind of liberal to overlook and justify credible allegations of child sexual abuse cannot be overstated either. That is precisely what they do at “National Center for Reason and Justice,” an organization with an Orwellian name that fits well in the age of Trump. This organization was so determined to discredit the recovered memories of the primary complainant in the criminal case against Paul Stanley that they were had no difficulty overlooking credible allegations from at least 19 other men.

What is their reason for siding with the convicted sex offender? They cite JoAnn Wypijewski, whose article in Counterpunch, “The Passion of Paul Shanley,” actually allows that Shanley presented “an alarming picture of a priest obsessed with sex, one who exploited school settings or counseling sessions to make conquests.” But Wypijewski’s response to 19 affidavits attesting to sexual abuse by Shanley bears remembering during this national moment of reckoning: Read the rest of this entry »


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Where Milo’s Repugnant Ideas are Still Welcome

February 21, 2017
Milo Yiannopoulos has worn out his welcome. An old videotape just surfaced in which Mr. Yiannopoulos, as the NYT put it, “condones sexual relations with boys as young as 13 and laughs off the seriousness of pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.” That was enough to lose Milo a book contract and an invitation to speak at CPAC. And it is encouraging that many people agree that such remarks are inappropriate, to say the least. But the fact remains that Milo Yiannopoulos’s repugnant views still find a warm welcome in America. And it comes from an organization with a perfect name for the age of Trump: the “National Center for Reason and Justice.”

The NCRJ “sponsors” cases in which they claim that criminal convictions for child molestation are somehow unjust. Here is an example of their “reason” at work: the NCRJ sponsors the case of Paul Shanley, defrocked priest and convicted pedophile, covered in the award-winning film, Spotlight.

What is their reason? They cite writers like JoAnn Wypijewski, whose article in Counterpunch, “The Passion of Paul Shanley,” actually allows that Paul Shanley presents “an alarming picture of a priest obsessed with sex, one who exploited school settings or counseling sessions to make conquests.” But Wypijewski’s response to 19 affidavits attesting to sexual abuse heartens the NCRJ: Read the rest of this entry »

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Spotlight and those who still defend Paul Shanley

August 28, 2016
Spotlight received many accolades. The New York Times called it “a gripping detective story and a superlative newsroom drama, a solid procedural that tries to confront evil without sensationalism.” Spotlight later won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The movie portrays the journalistic effort, by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team, to uncover widespread abuse by Catholic priests and the related cover-up by their superiors. Paul Shanley, one of the offenders highlighted in the movie, was described in the Globe as coming “to symbolize the alleged failure of the Archdiocese of Boston to control sexually abusive priests.”

Shanley’s eventual arrest and conviction is often hailed as evidence of how far we have come in acknowledging and confronting child sexual abuse in America. Maybe so. But there is an advocacy organization that still defends Shanley, minimizing or denying in its entirety his “trail of abuse,” as Maureen Orth put it in this article in Vanity Fair. The so-called National Center for Reason and Justice “sponsors” Shanley’s case notwithstanding 19 affidavits from Shanley’s victims. They stand with JoAnn Wypijewski, who acknowledges (near the very end of this lengthy, pseudo-defense) that these affidavits “present an alarming picture of a priest obsessed with sex; one of who exploited school settings or counseling sessions to make conquests.” She even allows that these accounts convey “clearly manipulative” behavior but she objects that 16-year-old boys are “capable of consenting” – adding “Regrets don’t negate the choice.” As to the 14-year-old boy, well, Wypijewski notes that he went back five or six times as well. She does not address his obvious inability to consent under law.  

Paul Shanley has come to represent the failure of the Archdiocese of Boston to control sexually abusive priests. He also stands for something equally important to remember: the continued tolerance of such behavior by misguided advocates who stand with the convicted even in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt.

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