How Letting Mary Kay LeTourneau Speak is a Good Thing

posted in: Child Abuse | 7

I am on record as being for more speech, not less. Letting people speak let’s all of us see them for who they really are, and what they truly believe. This is another example where hearing what people had to say, or not say, should educate us about where their sympathies lie.

Last week, ABC television in the US aired an interview with Mary Kay LeTourneau, who was, famously, arrested in 1996 and spent some time in jail for sexually abusing a 12 year old boy. All these years later, she is married to that boy, and they have two children together. As the time for this interview got closer, I saw, and was approached by, a number of people who felt like ABC should not air the interview, because she would obviously try to minimize the damage done to abuse victims.

As it turns out, that was exactly what happened, and Barbara Walters let her do exactly that, apparently without comment from what I’ve read.

That disgusts me. But I’m still glad it aired. Here’s why:

  • It provides an opportunity for good writers to critique ABC and Mary Kay with the facts about child abuse survivors. Like this article.

Look, the fact that ABC chose not to investigate the reasons behind his depression, and substance abuse, or elaborate on why he is not supportive of any adult having a relationship with a child, should not negate the fact that all of those things happened because he was raped as a 13 year old boy.

  • It provides parents an opportunity to see that there are people, women even, who think having sex with a 13 year old is normal and OK.
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Parents need to be made aware of the fact that there are people out there who believe this, and should never, ever, assume that an adult paying extra attention to their child is OK because it’s a woman, not a “child molester”. Child molesters came in all shapes, sizes and sexes. Mary Kay Letourneau molested a 13 year old boy. That is a fact. After being released from prison, she went right back and did it again. The fact that they are still, somehow, together, does not change that fact and it does not make what happened while he was a minor a “relationship”.

  • It exposes ABC, and media in general, as non-allies to male survivors.

This is the same network that has gone out of it’s way with it’s “Catch a Predator” series to find males trying to victimize girls. That’s a good thing, but obviously this attitude about catching predators does not extend to finding, and exposing, female predators. For all of the care and concern they show about female survivors, male survivors are “in a sexual relationship” with adult females, not being abused.

Some of you want to rail against ABC for showing the interview at all. I’d rather have had the interview out there and rail against ABC because of the real problem, they do not see the sexual abuse of males as a serious problem. We now know that, without question, and we can act accordingly. Included in that is coming to the realization that US media is not an ally in the fight to raise awareness for male victims.

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Remember that, ABC 20/20 and Barbara Walters do not see the sexual abuse of a 13 year old boy as a serious issue. So much so, that they won’t even call it rape or abuse. Given the opportunity to challenge LeTourneau with facts about sexual abuse and it’s effects on male victims, they instead gave her a platform to try and normalize her behavior, relatively unchallenged.

These people are not our friends, and should not be trusted to tell the truth about anything, ever. They have lost that right.

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