from Jules - Thursday, October 11, 2001
accessed 2082 times
Anneke, I was writing a response to your question of why Family members/exmembers who abused children are not in prison, and it got so long, I figured I should turn it into an article.
[Regarding the issue of why criminal acts by Family/exFamily members have not been successfully prosecuted:] I think there are many factors that have contributed to this.
Jurisdiction: Many of these crimes were committed in foreign countries and could only be prosecuted in the countries they occurred in. Organizations that fight child sexual exploitation have been lobbying for laws that would prosecute sex offenders that committed crimes overseas as though they were committed in their own country. They have actually succeeded in getting these laws passed in places like Canada and the UK, but unfortunately this cannot be enforced retroactively.
Statute of Limitations: Sexual crimes usually carry an “expiry date” after which the perpetrator cannot be charged with the crime. By the time many of us left the group, sorted out all the things that had happened to us, sorted out our own lives and decided to try to take some action, the time when we could have done anything was already past.
Lack of physical evidence: Sexual abuse cases are difficult to win in the best of circumstances, because often there is no physical evidence to prove that the abuse actually occurred. Berg was clear that incest meant intercourse, and that if there was no penetration, then there was no abuse. Most of the Family creeps were careful to follow this advice and although there were some cases of rape, most of the abuse I know of did not involve penetration, which made it impossible to tell if anything had happened or not through a medical examination, (which would sometimes be more effective for female children anyways). By the time the raids occurred and children were taken in for examination, the ones who were most severely abused were now young teenagers, and could have lost their virginity from sexual activity with their own peers.
Invisibility: Most children have a number of caregivers from different groups of society with involvement in their lives. There are doctors, teachers, neighbours, babysitters, pastors, grandparents, etc. who come in contact with the child frequently. If abuse is occurring, someone somewhere will have witnessed something. We were isolated for most of our lives and had no access to any of these safety nets. This also means that there are no outside witnesses to what occurred.
The methodical cover up: The Family deliberately destroyed as much of the documented evidence of the abuse that occurred as possible. When they started coming under fire, books were burned. If it were not for the actions of (admittedly obsessive) vigilantes like Ed Priebe and Rick Dupuy, what documentation was left would have never gotten into the hands of the media and the authorities. All Family members, adults and children, were drilled in “appropriate” answers, and practiced with mock interviews and cross examinations.
Denial by the perps: Most of the people who did these things to children do not think they did anything wrong. They either absolve themselves of guilt by saying it was all the fault of the “evil cult” or they actually admit to enjoying it and only now abstain to avoid legal trouble. The indignant outrage that ensues when they are confronted with the facts only adds to the stress of taking a stand on these things.
Our own denial: It’s hard to even acknowledge that we were abused. Child abuse, especially sexual, carries an incredible stigma in our society. Most of us have enough to deal with to just get through without adding to the list. I know for me, being in control of my own life and being strong are very important to me. I don’t want to give people any reason to pity me, I guess it’s really that I don’t want to be vulnerable in any way. These factors mean that for many of us (and I think for boys especially), this is extremely hard to talk about. This is not an uncommon reaction, and has been documented by many studies on the issue.
Loyalty: For many of us, the people that hurt us were “Uncles” and “Aunties”, but when these things were done by our own parents, it is very difficult to even conceive of taking legal action. We don’t have many ties to anything or anyone, and our personal family becomes extremely important to us once we leave. There may be a number of children still at home, and for those of us who are older, we seem to have always been responsible for our siblings and even our parents, and I personally, could not put my own family through more turmoil in pursuit of justice. My own parents are genuinely sorry for what they did do, (which never included sexual abuse) and act very differently now with the children they have at home, and I think that’s something.
Limited time and resources: For most of us, we have a lot of catching up to do and getting on with our own lives is our first priority. Living well is the best revenge.
Taking all this into account, there are some other issues. A criminal prosecution may be difficult but civil action is not out of the question, it would just take some time to come to fruition. The result of the Hare Krishna’s SGA class action lawsuit will be very interesting.
Here’s a thought too. If the people who did these awful things are really so sorry, why has no one turned themselves in? Confessing to pedophilia on Larry King Live doesn’t accomplish anything. If anyone really actually cared about “the children”, they would go to the authorities and confess what they actually did and do their time. If they really felt they were not to blame then they should press charges against the people they think “made them” do these things. The ensuing trials would bring some very interesting things to light and certainly set a precedent. It’s easy to say they are sorry from the anonymity of the Internet and the safety of their own homes. I don’t believe a word of it.