Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sick to my Stomach

The worst possible thing has happened. I won't even link to the news articles. But a guy I know who lives two blocks away and served (until Friday) on our LDS Stake High Council was just arrested for child sexual abuse. I only wish I had been a better friend to him. Maybe I could have somehow helped him.

I don't know what to say or how to explain. As I'm still out of town, I've been calling and texting my boy who is the same age as our accused neighbor's son and has been a friend of his. Instead of trying to rephrase this, I'll paste in here the painful message I sent off to our Troop Committee members:
This is to remind that there is no troop committee meeting tomorrow. We will reconvene next month before the court of honor.
I also wanted to convey a thought about some very bad news. I'm sure the Bishopric and our Aaronic Priesthood leaders can deal with this appropriately, but I think it does need to be dealt with. I have been talking and texting from Virginia with my [boy] about this very troubling matter affecting a Teacher in the 6th Ward whose dad was just arrested for sexual abuse. 
I know we have to let the legal process and church process work and we have to respect that the individual has his presumptions of innocence legally and that we can't judge unrighteous judgment spiritually. But our young men need to know that these terrible things can happen but that they don't have to happen because of the choices we make. There is no guarantee either way. There is only our choice to follow the Lord or the adversary and we make that every day at every moment furthering us along one direction or the other. Well, that 's my soapbox. I'll leave it to you all who have the spiritual callings and keys. But I do think it must be addressed because these boys will be talking about it anyway.
Can I say any more? Yep. I'll give my Solzhenitsyn quote one more time:
"If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" The Gulag Archipelalgo (Harper & Row, New York, 1973) at 168.
And this:
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
 26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
 27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
2 Nephi 2:25-27.  
My heart is broken and my only choice is to turn to the Lord. Our hearts must be broken if we have any hope of the Lord saving us. I only hope the broken hearts on all sides of this tragedy can turn to the Lord through all the legal processes, church disciplinary councils, pain, fear, suffering, anger, hurt, and hopefully - eventually - repentance, forgiveness, love, and peace that can follow.
March 3, 2013

We've had a sentencing hearing. The neighbor pleaded guilty to a felony and misdemeanor relating to sexual abuse and indecent exposure - Two years in Davis Co. Jail with opportunity for work release in second year. Then five years probation with no contact with children under 18 without court approval. I will give a news link now that there is a verdict and sentence.

Addendum later same day:
My son who is a friend of this man's son and has spent some time with him and the family since this tragedy, partly at my encouragement, said I should not have published the link. As the man is now a convicted sex-offender, it is public knowledge and unfortunately (but maybe helpfully to others) this will follow him for the rest of his life. My son also reports that why we don't know any details, the man has been faithfully attending church while out on bail and is apparently working with his church leaders for whatever church discipline may be in process.

There is still hope. Let's hope the victims are recovering too.

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