It shocked me, really. As a young radio newsguy, one of my jobs was to call the local police agencies each night and ask if they had any news to report. There was nothing thrilling–no serial killers, so famous arrest, no news-worthy scandals.
Check that–there was one newsworthy scandal, but to my young mind, it was a series of aberrations. More often than I figured possible, people were arrested for sexual conduct with minors. Usually, it was men–typically between the ages of 40 and 55, if memory serves.
Then time went by. Howard Stern used to irritate me by talking about priests molesting boys. As a Good Catholic™, I thought he was being unfair. Anti-Catholic. After all, I did Catholic stuff all my life, even went to a Catholic High School. Surely if such things were going on, there would’ve been a least a whisper.
But there was nothing. No one I knew spoke of this.
And then the scandal broke. To this day, I’m pretty sure I don’t know any priests who participated. But I’m much less certain than I used to be.
It’s not just Catholics. It’s teachers–seemingly more female than male. It’s actors–and even though Kevin Spacey might wiggle out of his current legal woes, Family Guy referenced his behavior in 2005. Coincidence? Maybe. I tend to believe not.
I believe that Corey Feldman is probably right. I believe there’s probably a subculture of sexual abuse of children in Hollywood. I believe that people like him, Corey Haim, and others we look back with a spoiled drug-addicted losers, were and are probably victims of that subculture.
Corey Haim (now deceased) and Corey Feldman
And that brings us to Jeffrey Epstein. Right now, the big names associated with him are Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and Alan Dershowitz. It’s too early to know for certain which of them–and which other men (and maybe women) of influence are involved, and which were just friends with the wrong guy.
Jeffrey Epstein, world-class creep
But it’s not too early to believe that this is largely true, and to pause before condemning actors, athletes, or singers who crash and burn at a young age. Even in today’s more-open society, the people who abused them, or allowed the abuse, are still powerful. And being the victim of a sexual predator is still deeply personal and embarrassing.
Politics doesn’t matter. Admiring someone doesn’t matter. Skill and prowess don’t matter. Anyone who turns up in this investigation needs to be seen through the same framework as Jerry Sandusky. Anyone who looked the other way or actively protected Epstein and his cohorts should be seen through the same framework as Joe Paterno.
Maybe this isn’t as big as it looks like it could be. I suspect it’s better. And that even when the investigation is over, other powerful people will avoid detection. If it was done in Glens Falls, New York by relatively powerless men, you have to know it’s being done even more by men (and maybe women) with power.