Tue | Sep 19, 2017

Glenn Tucker | Sex-abuse crusaders, temper your emotions

Published:Monday | March 27, 2017 | 3:00 AM

"Good name in man and woman, my dear Lord.

Is the immediate jewel of their souls

Who steals my purse steals trash ...

But he who filches me my good name

Robs me of that which enriches him not

And makes me poor indeed ..."

- Othello (Act 3: Scene 3)

A few months ago, I started receiving photographs of young men on my phone. They were accompanied by frantic messages identifying these men as being responsible for some of the current sex crimes and pleading for the widest possible circulation of the information.

I immediately became suspicious and pressed the 'delete' button. Subsequent events proved me correct. The authors were just scorned lovers seeking revenge. This was when the society was becoming excited by a high-profile case of paedophilia and some of the most horrible prescriptions were being proposed to 'correct' the problem. It occurred to me that the society was not in the mood for rational reasoning on this matter. Not that Jamaica was reacting differently from any other society. While the public screamings were taking place, I was reminded of the McMartin preschool case in the US.

The McMartin family ran a successful preschool operation for many years and in 1983, charges of child sexual abuse surfaced. The next seven years was a period of indescribable horror for the McMartin family. The media had a field day. The school was closed and the government joined in the hysteria by increasing, by eight times, the allocation to the National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect for research into child sexual abuse, making it the greatest source of funding for child abuse in the US. This torture went on for seven years, until 1990. At that time, it was the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. Incredibly, no convictions were obtained and all charges were dropped. But the defendants were devastated financially, physically and emotionally. For those who truly understand the deadly effects of stress, it would come as no surprise that these defendants died shortly afterwards.

In 2005, one of the accusers, now an adult, had this to say: "... never did anyone touch me. And I never saw them doing anything. I said lots of things ... that didn't happen. Anytime I gave them an answer, they would ask again and again until I gave them the answer they were looking for. I felt ashamed ... But whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do."

This problem and how to deal with it is surfacing again with a court hearing for someone who posted information on social media about persons who insist they are innocent and are now struggling to determine how the rest of their lives will turn out.

 

WEAPON AGAINST MEN

 

Sex crimes jar a particularly sensitive region of the human psyche. It is therefore one area that is used as an effective weapon against men. There are, therefore, many persons who are wrongfully convicted of sexual offences. When this happens, the injustice is amplified and punitive measures can be extremely severe.

In the US, the National Registry of Exonerations list sex crimes way and above other offences for exonerations. Between 1989 and 2012, sexual abuse accounted for 80 per cent of exonerations and the main reason given was 'mistaken eyewitness identification, for child sex abuse, the percentage was 74 and the main reasons were perjury and false accusation.

I would never attempt to minimise the issue of violence against women and children. There is, however, an abundance of evidence that should encourage crusaders to temper their emotions with a little logic before picking up the sword. To hear something and proceed to posting a person's name, photograph and whereabouts on social media is cruel and irresponsible. It is hateful, hurtful and harmful. There is no upsurge or increase in sex crimes in this country. We are just talking about it more.

"After all, what is a fine lie? Simply that which is its own evidence" - Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying, 1891.

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