Today I want to answer a question I am frequently asked when people hear of our story of Kalyn's sexual abuse. (Welcome to our many new readers who have probably not heard our full story as recorded in Unmask the Predators.)
Here is the two-part question I hear:
1.) When you discovered the problem with Kalyn, did you call the police?
2.) And what happened to the sexual predator that abused her?
So here are the short answers for you.
1.) We discovered an $800 cell phone bill that revealed a secret relationship between our then 15 year old daughter Kalyn and a 46 year old man from our church. The opening scene of that discovery was not pretty at all.
Over the next season, she fell into a crazy mixture of depression, rebellion, denial, eating disorders and suicide threats. It was a nightmare.
And YES we did call the police. Once we realized what had truly happened, (which was confusing initially) we called our authorities (which in our case, was the sheriff's department.)
2.) The perpetrator was eventually arrested on a felony charge. Three years later he was brought to trial before a jury, and Kalyn and our family had to face him in court. He was convicted of solicitation of a minor which would have listed him on the sexual offender registry and resulted in some type of jail or parole sentence.
But at the sentencing hearing a couple months later, he had hired two new lawyers who discovered an error in how the jury was instructed at the trial. The case was sent to the appellate court for four more years. When the decision came out, it was ordered for re-trial. The re-trial never happened. Then it was dropped.
The man was released from the charges as if the case never happened. No registry and no criminal records were recorded against his name. The last we knew he is still working at a Christian organization.
Obviously, it was quite shocking.
So why did we call the police in the first place, and would we do the same thing again?
We called our authorities because it was the right thing to do on every account! We are law abiding citizens so we reported the crime. We wanted the truth to be told so others would be protected. We knew Kalyn needed to understand that she was a victim and hear others, especially the authorities, acknowledge that a crime had been committed.
We want dangerous people marked so they do not show up in other settings to hurt others. And because pastors are mandated reporters, Doug made that call.
I have no anger or resentment with the law enforcement team. They were kind and helpful. They did the best they could with the limitations of these type of cases. They treated Kalyn with gentleness and respect, and earnestly believed her report. So I am glad we called.
At the same time, I hated the whole process. It was just as painful and traumatic for Kalyn as what you have ever imagined. And yet, in the end the reality of surviving having to face her abuser helped to set Kalyn free from her pain.
I sometimes cringe when I hear people talk about reporting sexual abuse as if reporting it will somehow solve all the problems. Oh, if it were just that simple! These situations are generally very complex and I, after living this nightmare, do not blame victims and their loved ones for being conflicted, worried, and confused about the issue of reporting.
Reporting is critical, but it has so many limitations that must be noted:
abuse cases are extremely difficult to prove
evidence is usually lacking
abusers generally manipulate victims and are good at hiding evidence
victims are often re-victimized by the whole process
courts processes are very slow and....
the odds of a conviction are stacked against you
In fact, it is estimated that only 3% of sexual offenders ever see jail time. (See Unmask the Predators for more statistics and facts.) Shocking, huh?
So why even bother to report?
Because it is the law, and it is the right thing to do!! And God honors us when we do the right thing. And it is very important that we continue to enforce laws that are still designed to protect our kids! (Even as we see sexual ideas about children shifting in this generation.)
So if you, your family, or your church face issues of sexual abuse, I urge you: Do the right thing! Learn your local laws. Report crimes and follow appropriate procedures. Have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:11
I am so sad when I hear stories of people who have heard bad advice like...
....don't tell or you might wreck the family.
....he says he is sorry, so it will probably be OK now.
....I don't think it was that serious so let's just forget it ever happened.
Hiding sin is deadly. It never prospers, and it causes lifelong wounds and destructions. Sexual abuse wounds that are buried alive cause terrible side effects. I find the devastating evidence in a trail of people who share with me their stories.
So that is why I am doing all I know to do to help all families PREVENT abuse in the first place! That is our much more hope-filled solution. We don't want anything happening that we need to report.
PLEASE get a copy of Lisa and Kalyn's book Unmask the Predators. In fact, if you cannot afford a copy, call us anyway. We want to help you! 800-213-9899
If you are in need of help with sexual abuse issues, click here for more information.
Image: Hartwig HKD “Monster and Angel” via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)