So, when I woke up this morning and saw that Syracuse University’s basketball coach and assistant coach seem to have the same issues that we just heard about with Penn State’s Paterno and company, I felt this gnawing feeling in the back of my mind. Then I started to think about the internal workings of the Catholic Church, which allowed (and still allow, in my humble opinion) the institution of a pedophile’s version of Girls Gone Wild. Then I put two and two together, and here is what I got.
Is it possible that men like these—priests, coaches, etc.—find a safe haven in the men’s clubs that both the Catholic Church and College sports provide? Look, there is a camaraderie that prevails in these organizations, a “we will protect you” type of environment that wouldn’t exist if women were part of the club. A woman in the Penn State debacle might not have been willing to look the other way. And let’s face it, the evil that lurks within those men might not have been quite as comfortable in the presence of a mixed crowd of men and women. College men’s sports and the Catholic Church have one thing in common: no women in their midst.
Now, I understand that this comparison may be far-fetched, and I may lose Freesia Lane‘s few male readers, but I have to put it out there anyway. Plain sight has always been a good place to hide, and the old boys’ networks in both the college sports arena and the Catholic Church have served these perverts well for many years.
I remember in high school we had two female PE teachers. One taught swimming and the other taught gym. One night after a field hockey game (I wish I still played), I forgot something and went back to the locker room. In the office I saw the swimming teacher sitting on the PE instructor’s lap in a way that made me uncomfortable. They looked up. I looked at them. They looked terrified. I looked away and ran out of the locker room. This was 1970, and I assure you I didn’t think about being gay, or about them being gay, because that kind of thing wasn’t on my radar screen. But I knew something was off about it, and that I should never tell anyone. I didn’t play any more sports after school, and I think I had my period for the next year and a half every time I was supposed to swim and no one said a word to me about it. So I know the feeling of disquiet you get when you know something—and I also know I didn’t tell.
Then, in my early twenties, a pedophile member of my extended family brought a young boy to a family gathering. My boyfriend at the time told me we were leaving, and said he was never coming back to my family’s house. I look back on my lack of action at that time as one of my greatest failures in life. I just didn’t say anything to anyone. I didn’t rock the boat, and I’m sorry. Since it wasn’t blood family, I haven’t seen the perpetrator in more than twenty years (he’s actually on the lam, if the truth be known, and for something totally unrelated to his sexual predilections). But I know I was a party to what he did back then, and I apologize for it now. Oprah is right—you are only as sick as your darkest secret, and that is certainly one of mine. I think if it were to happen now I would not just stand by, but rather stand up. Times they are a-changing, and I’m grateful.
Upon further reflection I realized that all of us who are screaming, “I would never have hidden it or looked away,” need to regroup too. I went and saw Midnight in Paris even though I had sworn off Woody when he went after his common-law wife’s underage child. Is Woody Allen a pedophile? Oh yeah. And don’t talk to me about Roman Polanski and his latest movie. The truth is, we are fickle people who don’t see our own forest through the trees. And I, for one, intend to change.
Here is a message to all pedophiles: Let the bells toll far and wide. There is no safe haven for you people any longer. You will be found. You will be prosecuted, and henceforth you will not be allowed to pick a career in which you might feel safe in the evil that you do. End of story. And if there are other industries providing safe haven for child molesters, let us figure it out now and sweep clean that which has been unswept for far too long.