Below are excerpts from an emotionally moving report by Dan Wentzel on the Sandusky verdict. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the Sandusky family, and Jerry Sandusky, may he experience mercy and truth which can heal his deep brokenness.
Juror No. 4, the foreman, gray-haired and middle-aged, stood high in the back row of the jurors’ box, looked down at some sheets of paper, then at the defendant and began to deliver a verdict a long, sad time coming.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Forty-five times it rang out. Juror No. 4 hammered each one home with the independent force each one deserved. He seemed to make sure each count was granted its own moment to linger, to emphasize the torture and pain and shattered innocence it produced.
This was a night of redemption, a predator laid bare, with nowhere to hide, with no more lies to tell, with no one left to save him.
When this dramatic, nearly eight-minute condemnation was finally, fully read, the Judge said, “you have been found guilty by a jury of your peers.”
The defendant stood mostly motionless throughout, looking up at Juror 4 as the truth was slammed down onto him, as the light was finally and irrevocably cast on his behavior.
On the other side of the courtroom, Victim No. 6, his abuse was investigated but never prosecuted, laid his head on the top of the bench in front of him and sobbed uncontrollably.
During this trial a parade of victims overcame their own fear and embarrassment to detail, often with chilling testimony through sobs and gasped breath, told what was done to them.
They also cried about regret. Victim No. 4 said he wished he’d summoned the courage to come forward sooner and save other victims.
On and on it went.
Years and years and years.
Incident after incident after incident.
Until finally, Juror 4 stood up in that box . . .
Finally, it was over. Finally, the deception and protection were gone. Finally, this once hulking man, backed by prestige, propped up by the illusion of charitable work, had nowhere to run, no tale to tell, no one capable of keeping him from facing the awful truth of his life.
Guilty. Guilty. Damn, Damn Guilty.
The exercise of justice is not satisfying or pleasant. It is simply further devastation amidst a public display of wreckage. Yet there is a sense of relief that things are now the way that they should be. Injustice has been halted. The abuse, at least by this particular individual, will stop. He’ll have no more victims.
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
My experience has not been with the type of abuse described in this article. I did not experience the degree of pain of the victims in this story. Reading the story however did make me think of so many stories I know of victims of spiritual abuse who were disregarded and ignored. The story captures the downfall of a charade that for years held the toxic system in place, allowing the victims to be dismissed and the abuse to continue.
When evidence of ongoing spiritual abuse begins to stack up, what role will the body of Christ play in the story? The pattern has often been to ignore, or worse yet, to blame victims who dare to speak up. We are uneasy about how to bring light to toxic ministry situations. How many victims must come forward? When does their devastation outweigh the abuser’s respectability and success? Those with the ability to confront a toxic situation cannot afford to protect the system at the expense of victims whose lives have been shattered.
Incident after incident after incident.
2 thoughts on “Justice for the Oppressed”
“The exercise of justice is not satisfying or pleasant. It is simply further devastation amidst a public display of wreckage.” – That is a wonderfully insightful line, thank you.
You’re welcome Brad. Sadly, the destruction of evil ripples on after the verdict.
P.S. I really enjoyed your post on foster parenting.