Sunday, February 26, 2017

RIP Chez Pazienza

Yesterday one of my personal writing heroes passed away suddenly at the age of 47.  Chez Pazienza was a writer, a TV producer and podcaster who I considered a friend. Details of his passing have not been released as of this writing, but it doesn't really matter. We lost a singular voice who could speak passionately about politics, music, movies, beer, food, you name it.

I don't remember how I came across Chez to begin with. I think that it was at his blog Deus Ex Malcontent or maybe Twitter. This was probably 2010 or 11. Chez's writing style grabbed me and I immediately purchased his autobiography Dead Star Twilight. Still to this day one of my favorite books.

The man had demons. He fought those. He was so brutally honest about his mistakes whether it be failed relationships, drug addiction, screwing up career opportunities, he never flinched from his truth or his reflection. 

When he started podcasting with his friend Bob Cesca, (also someone I deeply admire), I was hooked. Those guys were me. They cursed, they talked in depth about politics, movies, music and life. I was happy to support them.

When Chez, Bob and Ben Cohen started the Daily Banter, I was immediately on board as a reader.  I was also fortunate enough to be accepted as a guest writer by Ben, Bob and Chez. This brings me to one of my favorite personal memories of Chez.

Chez and I had a difference of opinion on a teen aged boy who had a threesome with two adult female teachers. Both of our opinions were published at the Banter.  We had an email and text exchange and finally a brief phone call. He could not have been kinder. I will always be thankful for his advice and encouragement.

The last few years, Chez seemed to find happiness with his fiancee, Taryn. He positively glowed when he wrote or talked about her.

The only people he loved more than Taryn were his daughters Inara and Madison. He wrote voluminously about Inara. Another thing we had in common, we have daughters almost exactly the same ages.

I'm going to miss Chez's passion, his acerbic wit, his insight. He truly spoke to me like few others have.

My sincerest condolences to Taryn, Chez's daughters Maddie and Inara, his parents and all those who knew and loved him.

RIP my friend, I hope in the end you found peace.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Joe Paterno Chose Evil

In the wake of the testimony in the Jerry Sandusky child rape trial, being unsealed there is new shock and outrage directed at Penn State and Joe Paterno and rightly so. Paterno facilitated what may well have been a criminal child sex trafficking operation by turning a blind eye to reports of Sandusky's depravity as far back as 40 years ago. 

As a reminder the first contact about Sandusky with police was in 1998. He wasn't arrested until 2011.  The nation in general and sports fans in particular were dumbfounded. People were shocked when reports surfaced that Paterno was made aware in 2001 and informed higher ups at Penn State who did nothing. 

Now we know that 22 years of additional victims exist. From a numbers perspective we are talking about thousands if not tens of thousands of individual acts of sexual assault and child rape perpetrated by Sandusky. Hundreds of more victims. 

It's important to understand that when a perpetrator like Sandusky has access to a victim, he doesn't just assault the victim once.  Generally speaking, there's grooming behavior, then inappropriate touching, then acts like oral sex and anal penetration.  In 22 years of conducting forensic interviews of children, maybe a dozen have told me it happened only one time.  

An overwhelming majority of sexual abuse and child rape victims suffer the abuse over and over and over. Due to confidentiality, I can't be specific but I had a case with a perpetrator who was abusing a child 7-10 times a day. This is the rule not the exception. 

The sad thing about all of this is the response by the Paterno family and Penn State officials. Anthony Lubrano, a Penn State trustee and a staunch supporter of Paterno was interviewed by Dan Bernstein and Barry Rozner on WSCR 670 The Score in Chicago today.  He's still making the case that Sandusky didn't commit any crimes.

I read much of the testimony of the victims in the trial, as well as the statements made in the original indictment.  The details provided by the victims are the key to their credibility. It's what we look for when interviewing victims, the more detail, the more corroboration.  Sorry, Mr. Lubrano, but the allegations aren't uncorroborated. 

It's important to remember that as many as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused. The percentage of false reports is infinitesimal. Very few people make up sex abuse allegations, that's not to say there aren't false reports, but we members of the child protection community can weed those out pretty quickly.  

Today's revelations underscore one of the things we tell people.  If you see or suspect child abuse call the authorities. The worst thing that will happen is that professionals will meet with a child and determine they are safe, and not being abused.  

All of the coaches named today bear some responsibility for the evil they let go unchecked, but Paterno was the man in charge. A man charged with molding young men into productive adults, didn't have time for a 14 year old telling him he was abused. He told the young man John Doe 150, "I don’t want to hear about any of that kind of stuff, I have a football season to worry about"

Joe Paterno was fond of talking about the Grand Experiment, coaching football and educating young men at the same time.  Paterno read the classics and often quoted Plato. Plato once wrote "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the law". Make no mistake, Joe Paterno was not good people.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Joe Paterno Facilitated Child Rape.

On the same day that an appeals court judged granted Jerry Sandusky a hearing on a possible appeal, a second story about the Penn State child rape scandal broke.  Penn Live is reporting that as far back as 1976 Joe Paterno was made aware of  Sandusky's  abuse.  That's a full 35 years before he was told about the abuse witnessed by a grad assistant in 2001 .

Per Charles Thompson of Penn Live: "A new bombshell dropped in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal Thursday.
It came in the form of a single line in a court order on a related insurance coverage case involving Penn State, and its full ramifications can't immediately be gauged.
But that line was eye-popping in itself.
The line in question states that one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head CoachJoseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky." "
To say this is shocking is an understatement. Paterno's excuse for not reporting in 2001 was that he was old and didn't fully understand what was being reported. In 1976 he was neither old nor confused. He was a  powerful football coach at a power school.

In 1976 there was no social media so it's entirely possible he could have at minimum dismissed Sandusky and at maximum had him investigated. There would have been no blight on the program nor on Paterno. There would not have been more than a national eye brow raising and a tut tut over Sandusky's crime.

Instead of doing right by children, Paterno chose to do right by himself.  He clearly thought his program would suffer.  Perhaps people would doubt his status, his genius. Maybe people would question if Sandusky was the only coach preying on young boys.

What happened since 1976 has been well documented.  Sandusky raped at least 10 boys and was convicted for it.  He used his position of authority at his charity First Mile and his stature as a coach to groom them. He gave them gifts of team merchandise and trips to bowl games to buy their silence.

The fact that Paterno was aware of Sandusky's crimes in 1976 and still let him bring minor boys to bowl games could very well be considered trafficking.  Penn State Football essentially was a front for a child sexual abuser.  If Paterno was alive he could be facing Federal charges for criminal conspiracy

The tragedy in all of this is not that Paterno didn't get the perp walk he so richly deserved. The tragedy is that an uncounted number of boys were abused by Sandusky over a 35 year period and it could have been stopped. I'm spitballing here but I'd guess a minimum of 100 victims in those 35 years.

Joe Paterno facilitated child sexual abuse.  He knew about it. He ignored it. We once thought that he was covering up for his program for 10 or 11 years. Now we know that he was covering for 35 years. I'm not sure there's a level of hell deep enough for him.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dennis Hastert, Child Molesters, Homophobia and Transphobia

Child sexual abuse is a scourge that this country tries to overlook, it's an epidemic that no one likes to talk about. Child sexual abuse became a central topic in the media and social media over the last two weeks. The nation reacted in shock when it was revealed that Dennis Hastert was a serial child molester. 

Recently former Speaker of the House was sentenced to 15 months in prison for a number of bribery charges stemming from his sexual abuse of teens when he was a wrestling coach 40 years ago.  In the aftermath of his sentencing there were a number of misconceptions about sexual abusers in general and him in particular.

A number of people, mostly on social media started referring to Hastert as a closeted gay child molester because he molested boys.  Aside from perpetuating a bigoted myth, this is wrong for a couple of reasons.  Closeted gay men and women may have illicit affairs in secret.  They may visit bath houses or adult book stores. They may carry on relationships with someone of the same sex for years.  They don't abuse children unless they are child sexual abusers.

Child sexual abusers can identify as gay, straight, bi, queer, trans or any combination in between. Sexual abuse of children, like rape is about power and control.  It's about sexual gratification but it is NOT about orientation. Child sexual abusers often abuse children of both biologic genders. In 22 years in hundreds and hundreds of cases, the split between people abusing one gender or both is about a 50/50 split.

The most important aspect of child sexual abusers is opportunity.  They most often groom and abuse children they know.  Statistics show that about three quarters of children who are sexually abused are abused by someone they know.  There are a few child sexual abusers who do abuse strangers but this is extremely rare. The few cases I've done with abusers assaulting kids they don't know have happened in situations like sleep overs.

This brings me to the topic of the hysteria by right wing demogogues about Trans people using the bathroom they identify with.  This is just unadulterated bigotry and hatred. It is patently false that men dress up as women to abuse girls or adult women in bathrooms. As I illustrated above, child sexual abusers don't need ruses and costumes.

Claiming that bathroom laws protect women and girls totally discounts the fact that sexual abusers can be women abusing girls or men abusing boys.  Making sure men don't dress as women to abuse 'little girls' is just code for bigotry.

Dennis Hastert's crime brought the issue of child sexual abuse back to the public eye.  It's a horrific crime that leaves the victim scarred for a lifetime. It's crime that people don't like to talk about and when they do it's important that they use facts, not myth.

Gay men and Trans people are not child sexual abusers because they are gay or trans. That myth is bigotry, not fact. Child sexual abusers are child sexual abusers. Period.

Monday, November 30, 2015

R Kelly: Fame, Talent and Child Sexual Assault

Awards show season is upon us and Sunday night brought the Soul Train Awards to BET.  Generally speaking every awards show has some controversy, but last night's Soul Train Awards was closed out by R. Kelly, creating a firestorm across social media.

R Kelly was tried and found not guilty on child pornography charges in 2008.  He was first charged in 2001 after a homemade pornographic tape surfaced showing Mr. Kelly engaged in various sex acts with an (alleged) minor.  His defense team successfully argued that the age of the of the girl in the video could not be ascertained conclusively. 

Those are the recorded facts of the case.  For many people, who were quite vocal on social media last night, those facts are all that matter.  For many other people, a acquittal in criminal court does not equal innocence, and they argue that no amount of musical talent, celebrity, or money cleanses Mr. Kelly of the fact that he routinely sexually assaulted minor girls.

I have written extensively before about Woody AllenJerry SanduskyJosh Duggar and numerous other predators.  As a 21 year veteran child abuse investigator I've investigated teachers, priests, lawyers, doctors and police all who were serial predators.  They all have a lot in common with R Kelly.  

Serial predators like those I mention have some amount of wealth or influence or both. Their wealth gets them the best attorneys, hush money and most importantly gifts to help along in the grooming.  R Kelly clearly had an excellent legal team as evidenced by his acquittal.  He had wealth and fame to impress the impressionable children and to pay off their families if necessary. 

Chicago authors and activists Mikki Kendall and Jamie Nesbitt have written and tweeted extensively about R Kelly's predilections.  Not only was Kelly's limo seen around neighborhood schools, but his crew would routinely approach young black girls with invites to see Kelly.  These predatory behaviors didn't start in 2001. They go as far back as at least 1993. Nor did they stop in 2008 as several people can attest to. 

This brings up another point, in the case of R Kelly as is all to often the case elsewhere, the victims are girls and boys who are targeted for a very specific reason.  In the case of Kelly, those girls were young and black.  Black girls are sexually victimized as minors at a far higher rate than white girls and in general a higher rate than other girls of color. 

There are many theories as to why this is, but in the main it's because black girls are sexualized at a much younger age.  Again, I'd refer you to Mikki Kendall on Twitter and the hashtag #FastTailedGirls. Viewing black girls as sexual objects at a young age is disgusting, but unfortunately true. It's because young black victims are less likely to be believed.

These views of black girls are also why they're trafficked at much higher rates and at much younger ages, but that's a column for another time. 

In cases like Sandusky, the predator specifically went after boys who were in his youth program. Boys who were troubled, whom he bought off with gifts and trips.  Boys who he thought no one would believe.  

Woody Allen allegedly sexually abused his young daughter.  Josh Duggar abused his sisters while they were sleeping.  Again, preying on people whom they could portray as confused or mistaken. Children who most likely would not be believed. 

One other point to make in the Kelly case.  Many people have made mention of consent. For those who saw the sex tape, many thought that the young girl 'knew what she was doing' and therefore consented.  This is not unlike the Rob Lowe sex tape with the minor girl in 1988. 

People assume that girls in their teens are in control and want to be involved with these adult men. What they don't understand is that their 'consent' is purchased with gifts, celebrity and threats.  It may appear that they were willing participants but their will is compromised by the wealth, power and fame of the abuser.  The abuser threatens to ruin  the girl, or threatens that no one will believe her. Fear is a powerful motivator in these cases. 

The R Kelly case demonstrates that wealth, celebrity, and the very specific targeting of a very specific type of child, can and often does let a predator go unpunished.  

Regarding the controversy that was rekindled by Kelly's appearance Sunday night, I can only say this, no amount of fame, talent or money will change the fact that he's a predator and his targets are still roaming Chicago playgrounds. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An Open Letter To Governor Bruce Rauner

Dear Governor Rauner,

Let me introduce myself, my name is Patrick pronounced with the Atrick, (sorry I'm a sucker for Digital Underground). Anyway there's a few things that we need to discuss.

I've been a loyal, hard working State of Illinois employee for 21 years.  I make a middle class salary that supports my wife and two daughters. You claim that you are for the middle class, but recent behavior on your part suggests that you are ready to lay off or lock out 30,000 plus middle class workers and I really wonder why that is?

I mentioned that I've been a loyal employee, but I should probably expand on that.  I'm a child abuse investigator for DCFS.  I've routinely seen things that few people have the stomach for and fewer still have the emotional capability to handle.  Horrible things Governor, death, broken bones, sexual assault. Things that people don't want to admit exist, much less see and investigate.

I'm not pretending that I have the toughest job in the state. I know that all State employees have their difficult days.  People don't realize that we work for children, elderly, poor, and disabled people.  We protect your highways through the State Police and we build your highways through the DoT.

You, Governor Rauner have vilified State Employees. You routinely belittle what we do with hare brained schemes like trying to hire back retirees to replace us. You demean our dedication and service to the public. We're not the problem, sir.

I'm sure you know, sir, that all State Employee's salary combined makes up 7 % of the State of Illinois budget. 7% of a 31 billion dollar operating budget is 2.17 billion.  Your personal wealth is rumored to be over a billion dollars perhaps as much as the 2.17 that all state employees make.

You have lost your ability to empathize with common people. You said publicly that you would debate anyone any time regarding your economic plan. As evidenced by your dodging debate with Representative Mike Smiddy you've shown you're all hat and no cattle with regards to challenging people to debate.

Maybe it was an empty promise or maybe you felt that Smiddy would be polished enough to clean your clock.  So here's the thing, I will challenge you to a debate. I'm a common man. I have a mortgage and debts and I make a middle class wage. I'm no orator and I'm no politician.  I will give you the respect your office deserves if you will give me the common decency my service deserves.

My job is difficult but I love it.  All of us love it. We love working for the people of the State of Illinois.  We're not greedy, we're not lazy, we're not dumb. We love our state.  We love serving the people. I'd love to have this debate in person and I hope you take me up on my offer.


Patrick Perion AKA Quad City Pat

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Duggar Debacle

Trigger Warning

I wasn't going to write about the Duggar clan and the story about Josh molesting his sisters and a babysitter when he was a teen.  Then Megyn Kelly of FOXNews interviewed Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.  It's hard to put into words how colossally self serving the interview was.  Not only that but it minimized one of the most serious issues of our time, the sexual abuse of children.

First lets start with the facts as they have been presented by the family.  When Josh Duggar was a teen he confessed to Jim Bob that he had touched his sisters and another girl over and under their clothing while they were "sleeping".

In the interview Jim Bob and Michelle claimed that the girls didn't know because they were asleep.  I've literally interviewed hundreds if not thousands (the cases run together trust me) of children.  Many of them say, "he touched me when I was sleeping" or "I was pretending to sleep".  For the elder Duggars to assume  that the girls didn't know is ridiculous at best and an outright lie at worst.

Jim Bob stated that "it wasn't like rape".  I'd like to respectfully call bullshit.  Sexual abuse does  have different degrees but the it's still a violation and one victim may be just as traumatized by touching as another is by rape.  The degree of victimization is in the mind of the victim, not the parents and not the public. 

Jim Bob and Michelle talked about being devastated when they found out.  The did send Josh away for a while, but paid no mind to the trauma their daughters experienced.  If this had been handled properly at the time Josh and his sisters would have been sent to specialized treatment for offenders and victims. 

The Duggar family has made terrible mistakes in this case, but they are hardly alone.  Sibling abuse is very common. The families that take it to  the authorities, despite how difficult it is are the families I truly admire.  Covering up for you child isn't being a good parent.  Confronting the issue, is.

Since the Duggar's failed all of their children miserably, here's what should be happening now.  If this case was in Illinois, there would be a hotline report on Josh's own children for Risk of Sexual Abuse.  This is taken when an offender has access and it is unknown if he has completed treatment and or an evaluation determining that he is at low or no risk to reoffend. 

As is evident in the show, Jim Bob and Michelle still allow Josh to be around his siblings who are still minors, so a report of risk would be taken on  them too.  If Josh sees an evaluator who determines him to be low risk, the reports would be unfounded. If not he would be indicated (founded) as would the elder Duggars and the family would be ordered into counseling.

Despite their best efforts to paint themselves as victims, the Duggars have only shed light on small part of their creepy family.  If any good comes of this, I fervently hope that kids who are being abused speak up. I hope that parents that find out about sibling abuse come forward.  Coming forward takes courage. In the end, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar aren't just failed parents, they're cowards.