You never know how hard it is to be a columnist until you have to come up with a snappy joke about pedophilia. I’ve been wracking my brain for a week now, and still can’t find a set-up where the punch line involves the anal rape of a child. So maybe I’ll just defer to former Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney, Will Spade.
Ten years ago, Spade was part of a team investigating the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the way it handles sex abuse claims. His first surprise came from the way that America’s largest religious denomination stonewalled every step of the investigation. It took a grand jury subpoena before church lawyers would even meet with him. “It was like trying to infiltrate a racketeering organization,” he said in a recent Rolling Stone interview. The subpoena also uncovered something called “Secret Archives files” –- church memos detailing fifty years of what the archdiocese euphemistically referenced as “unnatural involvements’ or “unusual patterns.” In the end, Spade’s team uncovered thousands of documents, detailing hundreds of victims at the filthy hands (amongst other appendages) of more than one hundred and fifty Philadelphian priests.
“I always thought it was funny, them calling it the Secret Archives files,” says Spade. “Moron! If there were so secret, why did they even call them that?”
The Three Stooges in Roman collars? Maybe. Or maybe it was just that the infamously bureaucratic church finally put a title to what the rest of western society knows intuitively: when it comes to winking at evil, child molestation is the worst kept secret in town.
“A lot of parents aren’t willing to do their homework,” former NHL hockey star Theoren Fleury recently told the Montreal Gazette, “because they’re either broken or have their own relationship problems. To pawn your kids off on someone else gives you that free time to maybe run your errands or do your thing.”
Fleury, who is on a laudable public tour to remind parents of their responsibility to protect children from sexually psychotic humans, also says that there is a need to incinerate the mystery surrounding this vile crime. “Tell your kids that your door is always open. Tell them they can call you day or night. Make them aware that [a sexual assault] might happen to them. And if it does, they need to call you immediately.”
But while having a wide open pipeline of communication with your kid will always top the best practices column, it’s no guarantee that wickedness won’t come knocking – or that when it does, the rest of the world will feel as strongly about it as you do.
“This something I don’t understand. Maybe you help me,” my sixty-five-year old Mexican neighbour, Pepé said to me this week. “This guy – he screw around with the hockey player – when they are small kids.”
“You mean Graham James.”
“Yeah, that’s the name. An you know, they give to him the sentence two years for that. Me, I just have too much in drinking – I don’t make no car accident, I don’t hurt nobody – and they gift to me tree and one half years. I know is my fourth time, but is still make no sense.”
When I asked how they handle this kind of thing in Mexico, his eyes lit up like a shot of Mescal tequila.
“If someone be doing that and the people in the little town is catching this guy, they take him and they all beat him until he is finished – he is dead. Then they just leave him there for the animal to eat. That’s all.”
While I’m not so sure that modern day Mexico has found the right model for sex offender treatment programs (or any other sort of criminal justice), we in the Great White North are hardly in a position to criticize. For all of my adult life, Canadians have been notoriously blasé about sex crimes. In “tough on crime” provinces like Ontario and Alberta, it’s common knowledge that you get half the time for sodomizing somebody’s kid than you do for jumping over a bank counter. And even when a sexual deviant does arrive in the modern day “integrated” environment of the Correctional Service of Canada, they are greeted at the door not by a blanket party of killer convicts, by a security specialist who informs them of their new protected species status. Care to guess how a highly manipulative adult, who has mastered the façade of innocence on your side of the fence, works his con game in here? Try Coach Dubé meets Bishop Lahey – with more protection than Sydney Crosby ever got. It’s enough to curl your bicuspids.
Thirty years ago, a group of grieving mothers who were sick of scraping their dead kids off of the grills of inebriated businessmen finally drew their line in the sand. The result is that in the 21st century Canada, you get behind the wheel with booze on your breath, and you’re going to bleed ‘til it hurts. Isn’t it time for Canadians to take a MADD-like approach to dealing with sexual perversion against kids? Pepé has even come up with a catchy name for the movement. We could call it Dads Everywhere Against Diddlers.