Jim Bob and Michelle:
I am not going to mince words. YOU HAVE FAILED YOUR DAUGHTERS. It is your job to protect them. You did not. Instead, you chose to protect your son.
I read the report. Your son offended in 2002. You chose to discipline him yourself and didn't report the abuse. He offended again in 2003. You can say that you tried to do the right thing and reported that your son molested his sisters. You chose to give that report to a law official that was known to the family.
You state that the parties involved received counseling and you allege that you sent your son to a program to receive help (which ended up being less than a truthful account). Considering that counselors are mandatory reporters of abuse, I don't believe that you sought for them the help that they needed. I think that you lied about that, just like you lied about your son's treatment.
I also believe that you knew that if you could keep the secret long enough, he would be legally protected. You aren't stupid people. I am willing to bet that you knew exactly how long it had to stay quiet in order for him to avoid prosecution. I'm willing to bet that you were desperately praying that this would never see the light of day.
In 2006, you were confronted with the situation. Your daughters were interviewed and disclosed their abuse at the hands of their brother. Finally, an official report was taken, and the abuse was on record. When police attempted to interview your son, instead of encouraging him to be accountable for his horrible acts, you declined to have him be interviewed by police and instead sought legal counsel for him.
I have watched your show. I didn't judge you for the way you chose to raise your family. I admired you for your accomplishments. I defended you when you were judged for your choices. I didn't agree with many of those choices but I believed in your right to make them as citizens of our country.
Now? I feel enraged for your daughters. I also do have a small amount of compassion for your son. He desperately cried out for your help and you failed him too. He knew he had a terrible problem, and instead of getting him the help that he needed (even at the risk of exposure), you did what all enablers do. You tried to keep the situation secret. You swept it quietly under the rug and completely disregarded the damage that was inflicted on your daughters. Doing so continued to hurt the people you are charged to protect.
I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and know what it's like to have to sit in front of strangers and tell my story of abuse. I was interviewed and videotaped by police, and had to reveal the intimate details of how I was violated. Like your daughters, I went through the experience and then was told that no charges would be filed, because the statute of limitations had expired on the offenses. My abuser was also allowed to continue to be free to abuse others.
I am sitting here, telling you from experience that my entire life has been affected by the fact that my abuser is still out there and has never paid for his crimes. Hearing about what is going on with your family is incredibly triggering for me, and I feel hurt and betrayed all over again by remembering that my family didn't protect me when I needed it most. This is what you've done to your daughters. You have made them like me.
I don't know what the future holds for you, but I am begging you to please do everything in your power to help your family heal. Be an example of how to do it right this time. Show everyone that you really want to do what is right. Sacrifice your "brand" in the interest of doing what you should have done in the beginning.
You have failed your daughters. Our country has failed your daughters and has also failed me and all other victims of abuse who don't disclose immediately. Laws need to be changed in ALL states to not allow offenders to be free to offend again just because victims don't disclose abuse "soon enough". This needs to happen so that your daughters can feel supported and validated, and your granddaughters can be safe.
The reality is that your son probably did and will continue to offend. If you think that this all ended in 2003, then you are sadly mistaken. Pedophiles rarely just stop offending. They just get better at hiding it and convincing their victims that no one will believe them.
P.S. Your situation has reminded me that I am passionate about getting the laws changed everywhere to protect the victims of abuse. I've let that sit by the wayside for a bit, but am now recommitted to the cause. I guess I have you to thank for that.
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