MADISON COUNTY, Alabama – The news of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle seeking out sexual interactions with minors as well as possession child pornography is making headlines nationwide.
But to prosecutors who deal with these sorts of cases, the emerging facts bring to light the public tendency to deny that such things can happen.
“For those of us who do this work on a daily basis, we know that horror exists,” said Jason Scully-Clemmons of Madison County District Attorney Office’s Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. “So from a practical perspective, that denial is dangerous to the jury system.”
Scully-Clemmons went on to explain that it’s easier to deny it than accept that a ‘seemingly nice and normal’ person can possibly engage in such activity, making it harder on attorneys.
“That kind of denial, what it does is that it raise the burden beyond ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’” Scully-Clemmons explained.
In Jared’s case, a ‘nice guy’ with an inspiring story adds another layer.
“People engage in denial because they have an image on how things are supposed to be and it’s accentuated by the celebrity of the person and their public persona,” said Scully-Clemmons.
But he knows from his experience that people, specifically children, rarely have reason to lie about such events. Furthermore, in private cases, the offender is most often someone that the victim knows.
As far as Jared Fogle’s case, Scully-Clemmons explains that a large percentage of those caught for possession of child pornography often later admit to engaging in sexual abuse with a minor as well.
This kind of denial is dangerous on so many levels. Aside from jurors not wanting to believe nice guys can be pedophiles, parents and teachers don't want to believe their own children when they come to them to complain. This attitude is improving, but still has a long way to go.
Then there is the denial by government officials of the incredible amount of child sex abuse that occurs in almost every country on the planet. Australia is dealing with it better than any country with their long and expensive Royal Commission, and Britain is being forced ever-so-reluctantly into a major inquiry. Beyond that, I see few other countries dealing seriously with the issue. India is trying but fighting many centuries of tradition, and the US is implementing Erin's Law in many states, a consequence of tireless work by Erin Merryn to convince state lawmakers of the need. Nothing major is being done nationally except for providing funding for the implementation of Erin's Law.
One other 'denial demographic' needs to be mentioned, and that may be you. The general population does not want to talk about it, read about it, or even think about it. That it will affect one-in-five of our children ought to have us all screaming from the roof-tops for something to be done. But we don't! The media knows it is not a subject people want to have brought up in the news daily, so they only present the most 'significant' stories. Consequently, the general population does not have a good concept of the extraordinary extent of CSA. And, because of that, we often don't prepare our children to deal with the possibility of becoming a victim. In other words - we are making the problem worse.