I know a pedophile. This saddens me beyond belief.
Just now, mid-November 2015, he is an alleged pedophile. He sits in jail, accused of giving a 13 year old boy alcohol, and then raping him. Perhaps he is not guilty. The courts will decide. Bail was set at $2,000,000. He faces the possibility of life in prison.
He was a student of mine. He sat in several of my classes. Despite a struggle with reading, he tried hard in class every day. I saw him often in the halls. We talked regularly. He dated the daughter of a good friend. I watched him wrestle for our school’s team. I watched him grow up. After graduation, he got a job coaching a nearby youth wrestling team. He was a good kid. He seemed so … so normal.
I am still in contact with a small subset of my old students. A trusted elder, I receive requests for recommendation letters, the odd photo of a wedding or baby. It’s a pleasant by-product of time spent teaching. These are good kids who have grown into good adults. An even smaller subset holds but a few kids with whom I have now become friends. They’re adult. They’re clever, funny, smart, accomplished.
The pedophile was in the former group. After he graduated, we followed each other on social media. He asked me for advice on the odd occasion. I complimented him on the quality of his wrestling team. As I read reports on the team, I could tell his wrestlers worked hard for him. As a coach, I know that’s strong indicator of trust and acceptance. We would not become friends, but we were acquaintances.
When the news broke early in November 2015 that he had been arrested, I was gutted sick. Sick that this young man I knew took the trust he had gained as a coach and used it to abuse a near-child. Sick that the good inside this young man was so easily overpowered by the evil he kept hidden beneath the surface. Sick that a man the same age as my son ripped a chunk of soul away from a 13 year old boy. Sick that a boy and his family would carry this abuse with them for all time.
I am glad, if he’s found guilty, that he will be behind bars where he can no longer harm other young people. If this boy he raped was my son, all manner of compassion I might hold about forgiveness and compassion and treatment would go right in the toilet. I’d want that rapist to die in solitary, never to see daylight again. Yet, here I grieve that the potential this pedophile showed in life will now rot in prison. My heart breaks for the young man who was raped. It’s devastating for all.
He was a good kid. Until he wasn’t.
And now, I know a pedophile.