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Letter: Until victims went public, sexual assaults were ignored

Until victims went public, sexual assaults were ignored

The recent letter excoriating witnesses for moral culpability and objecting to the revelation of sexual abuse of women under the power of men who may be innocent or may have atoned may be addressed by what happened with the revelation of sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church. Until victims went public, the assaults were ignored.

Women who complained to human resource departments of workplace sexual abuse were ignored, demoted, humiliated by co-workers or let go. Parents of children abused by priests found their complaints covered up by the church and abusive priests moved to the next parish. Not until the complaints went public was action taken.

The Boston Globe’s 2002 investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, captured in the 2015 film, “Spotlight,” focused media attention on the problem and brought lawsuits and criminal cases against the church, which made the church finally act to protect its parishioners.

The New York Times 2017 report on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation catapulted the exploitation of women into the public’s attention. Indeed, that’s when the witnesses who count, those in power, stepped forward. Told about the abuse, these witnesses used their power to remove the abusers. If innocent, the accused can fight back in the courts with libel lawsuits. Atonement by abusers does nothing for the abused – justice does. The workplace, the church, again become safe.

Noreen Johnson


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