“It never goes away…”

Kurt Dussander: To the whole world, I am a monster… and
you have known about me. Go ahead, call the police. But just remember this:
when I am caught, when those reporters stick their microphones in my face, it
will be your name I will repeat over and over again. “Todd Bowden… Todd
Bowden. Todd Bowden, yes that was his name. For months, almost a year, he
wanted to know everything. That was how he put it… yes… everything.”

Todd Bowden: You’re crazy. They’ll never believe you.

Kurt Dussander: It doesn’t matter. And besides, lying to
judges and reporters isn’t as easy as you think. You have to be brilliant! Can
you do that? I know I can. And in any case, do you know what such a scandal can
do? It never goes away.

-Apt Pupil

This week, two fringe candidates in the Georgia governor’s
race had a door to the past opened that I’m sure they would have preferred
remained shut. In unrelated incidents, Ray McBerry Jr. and Carl Camonhad been
accused of in appropriate relationships with female students while they were
teachers
. In both cases, the men denied wrongdoing and yet resigned shortly
after the allegations surfaced. In Camon’s case, he noted that the girls
involved were concocting stories about him due to bad grades, noting that at
least one had promised to “get you.” McBerry noted that he had been trying to
counsel a student who had substance-abuse issues when the student became
attached to him.

I don’t see enough written about this to make any kind of
intelligent determination as to if either man was guilty. To be fair, anything
is possible and if either of these guys committed these actions, they deserve
what they get from both their employers and the public. However, on the other
hand, most people who get accused of something like this have a track record of
this type of behavior. Thus, when the first person finally breaks the wall of
silence, usually many others follow with similar statements of incidents that
took place over a long period of time (see: Woods, Tiger and Waitresses, Truck
Stops). That didn’t really happen here. In either case, that’s not what concerns
me.

As an educator, I do my best not to think about it, but when
something like this comes up, it freaks me out. A career built over years of
study, work and determination can fall apart in a vengeful instant. A student
who doesn’t like you, a grade someone feels is unfair or more could bring you
crashing down. A student’s Machiavellian maneuver borne of anger, frustration
or some other under-thought reaction can yield a lifetime of misery for the
target of their spite.

We rightfully protect our children, as they are the most
precious things we have. They are also vulnerable and the damage that can be
done to them by vultures, con men and other evil doers can reverberate for
decades. A damaged child is one of the most painful things to see because you
know they hurt and yet there’s nothing you can do about it.

And, yes, there are creepy bastards out there who get an
overdeveloped sense of ego and entitlement. It’s the 30-something, balding, fat
coach (or conversely, the guy who was a “total stud” in high school and now feels
saddled with three kids and a wife who hates him) who is suddenly surrounded by
smoking hot, sexually budding female volleyball players in shorts that are way
too short and tight who usually cracks first. The girls giggle as girls do and
suddenly, well, there’s a hand on an ass and you can figure it out from there… Those
guys? Fry their asses.

However, thanks to jagoffs like that, we’re all on alert. I
never really thought about it all that much until I ended up with a slightly
imbalanced student in my class who kept hanging around after a night class. It
dawned on me that this student was likely to fail the class. It also dawned on
me that she kept sticking around, trying to talk to me about non-school stuff
and we were alone. Nothing happened, but it’s like when you’re suddenly aware
that you’re by yourself on a dark street in a shitty neighborhood without a
cell phone. You don’t like that feeling. The next day, I laid it all out for my
boss and he monitored the situation carefully. (It’s good to have a good boss.)

What makes this worse is that these things never go away.
These two guys will have this tin can tied to their tail for all of eternity.
And it’s like a football player with a blown ACL: Even after it’s fixed, it
doesn’t take much to blow it out again. The next time there’s an accusation,
they’re as good as guilty.

Certain things will fade with time. Steal? Hey, people will
eventually get over that. Lie? Yeah, well, I’m sure there was a good reason. Go
all Bernie Madoff or Jayson Blair? Get a book deal! Not all scumbaggery is
created equal. We even kind of got our minds of the false allegations against
Richard Jewell. However, the things uttered by teenagers regarding who did what
to whom always remain a maddening whisper of suspicion.

9 thoughts on ““It never goes away…”

  1. When I was working at home, two of the neighborhood children got locked out of their house and came to my door for help. I called their mother but I couldn’t invite them into the house. I wanted to. I wanted to pour them some juice and had them wait in the living room, but didn’t for fear that someone, somewhere would think the worst and then, as you point out, I’d be fucked.
    It’s sad that fear made me less of a considerate human being than I would have been in another time.

  2. soullite says:

    hey David, society chose what it wanted. I wouldn’t even have opened the door. I’d have liked to, but that’s a risk I’m not willing to take to help someone else’s children. I have my own family to look after, I’m not risking that for someone else’s. There’s something seriously ill in a society where men need to worry about something like that.
    Most people don’t want to fuck your little kids. However, every asshole parent on the planet thinks they are. As a result, other people won’t be there for you when you really need them to be. It’s far more likely that a little kid will need an adult to protect or help them than it is that an adult will try to abuse them. Only a very foolish man would actually help a young child, given the sort of accusations that are likely to arise by paranoid or attention-seeking parents.

  3. Jude says:

    I’m calling bullshit.
    I get tired of people saying that false accusations which ruin careers are such a tragedy. Yeah, they happen. Generally, though, if you’re innocent, you’re okay. That’s why we have this whole “due process” thing.
    But things now are far, far better for, you know, the girls (and boys) who have had to deal with people who abuse their power in teacher-student situations. For every one of the above situations (presuming that the two men are innocent), how many people do you have that are removed from teaching positions and/or jailed with cause? Making it easier for victims to come forward is a huge step in the right direction. Even then, it’s not a walk in the park. Just like women who accuse men of rape–there’s always some cocksucker (and usually a brigade of cocksuckers) who can’t wait to start smearing the women with charges of being whores. As if that would even matter. You can either have a situation where people come forward (without fear of reprisal) with accusations, those accusations are investigated and substantiated or not, and appropriate corrective action is taken, or you can have the fucking Catholic Church, where abusers are protected and the abused are demonized.
    High-school teachers shouldn’t be shtupping their students. It’s just that simple. Yes, I know that in some cases the students aren’t completely without agency, but age-of-consent laws, though often ridiculous, are still laws. When you’re the authority figure, it’s on you to be–what’s that word? Oh, right. Responsible. That’s it.
    I’m not saying that one accusation is the same thing as guilt. Not by a long shot. But multiple accusations? What’s more likely? That one man is the focus of a sustained conspiracy to convince the world that he’s a dipshit, or that he’s actually a dipshit?
    Also, what in the fuck does Tiger Woods have to do with this? How in hell do consensual acts between adults compare in any way to the problem you’re talking about?
    Finally–what the fucking fuck?
    And, yes, there are creepy bastards out there who get an overdeveloped sense of ego and entitlement. It’s the 30-something, balding, fat coach (or conversely, the guy who was a “total stud” in high school and now feels saddled with three kids and a wife who hates him) who is suddenly surrounded by smoking hot, sexually budding female volleyball players in shorts that are way too short and tight who usually cracks first. The girls giggle as girls do and suddenly, well, there’s a hand on an ass and you can figure it out from there… Those guys? Fry their asses.
    Stereotype much? Abusive teachers come in all shapes and sizes, as well as any gender.
    You know, if the above paragraph had been written by a right-winger, most of the people who read this blog would take it as a creepily specific “fictional” situation, and look at the author with a jaundiced eye. Notice the way that we react to Limbaugh’s perceived anal fixation, or Bill O’Reilly’s third-rate smut.
    And vengeance is yours, as well as the Lord’s? Son of a bitch, can’t we do better than this?

  4. RIF says:

    Reading is fundamental. Read, think, process, write.
    High-school teachers shouldn’t be shtupping their students. It’s just that simple. Yes, I know that in some cases the students aren’t completely without agency, but age-of-consent laws, though often ridiculous, are still laws. When you’re the authority figure, it’s on you to be–what’s that word? Oh, right. Responsible. That’s it.
    I’m not saying that one accusation is the same thing as guilt. Not by a long shot. But multiple accusations? What’s more likely? That one man is the focus of a sustained conspiracy to convince the world that he’s a dipshit, or that he’s actually a dipshit?

    In this case, it was one accusation by one kid for one of these guys and one set of accusations at a specific point in time for the other one. In neither case was the individual accused of “schtuping” his students. He was accused of leering and other things that aren’t as easy to prove, which was the point of one of the guys who said at least one kid said she was going to “get him.”
    In either case, Jude, you clearly missed the point of the entire post, either by design or by error. The idea isn’t if these guys are guilty or innocent. What is the issue is to what degree this makes for a culture of fear and the degree to which accusations that end up being unproven still leave a mark. Due process clears you in a court of law. To be fair, due process cleared O.J. Simpson of killing his wife. You don’t think there was still a stain on that guy? (Yes, it’s a different crime, but if you really wanted to, I’m sure you could see the underlying point.)
    Also, what in the fuck does Tiger Woods have to do with this? How in hell do consensual acts between adults compare in any way to the problem you’re talking about?
    I read it to be an analogy to the degree to which behavior was likely a pattern over time. In the case of the catholic priests, when one kid came forward, more did as well. When a teacher is accused of doing something, usually other students come forward. When Tiger Woods got outed by one waitress, other waitresses also said “uh, yeah… we had that happen as well.” In other words, pattern behavior tends to reveal itself after the first crack in the dam.
    Son of a bitch, can’t we do better than this?
    Dunno. I think I got the point.

  5. The Lodger says:

    Although you gotta admit, “Brigade of Cocksuckers” would make a great title for … something …

  6. Jude says:

    one set of accusations at a specific point in time for the other one.
    Sadly, as they say, no.
    FTFA:The Democratic candidate, Carl L. Camon, a former mayor of Ray City, a small town in southern Georgia, was accused by multiple students in 2007 of making sexual remarks, staring at female students’ breasts and looking up their skirts.
    He resigned in October from the school, in nearby Valdosta, rather than accept the commission’s weeklong suspension. He said students concocted false stories about him in retaliation for calls to their parents about bad grades.
    “One girl even told me, ‘We’re going to get you,’ ” he said in an interview. “I’m not accepting one minute of punishment for something I did not do.”
    The commission report mentions thatMr. Camon was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with students in a previous case but that no probable cause for punishment was found.

    So that’s at least two different occasions, provided that my math is correct.
    Yes, they didn’t find probable cause in the first one. However–and let me know if I’m wrong here–he survived one accusation with his career intact. The investigating party, for whatever reason, didn’t find enough evidence to render the student’s (the article is unclear whether they mean just one or more than one student was involved) accusation credible. He kept his job. That means, I believe, that one accusation didn’t cost him his career.
    All of this bullshit about a “culture of fear” is ridiculous. That’s usually just code for “people with privilege don’t have as much as they used to.” I, for one, would much rather live in a world where thsoe with less power are given a fair hearing. Be it teachers with students, cops with suspects, or bosses with employees, the capacity to abuse power is never absent. Rather than ignoring the complaints of the potentially abused because they just might harm someone’s career, why not take credible allegations and investigate them?
    These two guys quit their jobs rather than face investigations. Doesn’t that count for a goddamned thing? That’s some Tricky Dick shit right there.
    I was going to leave it there, but I did a little digging, and looky looky loo:
    Here’s the case file for the first guy’s accusation. Really? They met on a dirt roadafter this fuck had been told not to have any contact with the girl? Then he lied about it. Fuck him.
    There’s no similar case file for Camon that I can find quickly, and work calls.

  7. Doc says:

    Damn, I spend my whole day in meetings and I get back and there’s this.
    You missed the entire point of the post, Jude, which I kind of figured would happen. It’s not whether these guys were scumbags or not. It’s about what happens when someone accuses you of something that is scarring beyond belief. In at least one of these cases, the argument has been made that the allegations were suspect. Again, not the point.
    The point is, there is a sense among educators (and I know plenty of them) that anyone could be hit with one of these moments at any time, and it’s not a fatalism like “Well, I could be hit by a car at any point, so I won’t cross the street.” When one of these things pop up, we all kind of find ourselves watching ourselves for anything that MIGHT be POSSIBLY construed as MAYBE POTENTIALLY inappropriate. It’s like when you read about a robbery and you find yourself suspicious of strangers, checking the locks on your house and other various safety measures. It’s a reaction borne of the question: “Could this happen to me?”
    If you hate stereotyping (and that was sarcasm about the volleyball coach, by the way), you want to get out of that glass house before you start throwing stones. The line about a culture of fear being ” just code for “people with privilege don’t have as much as they used to.”” is complete and utter fucking bullshit. Read Noelle Neumann’s spiral of silence, Hayes’ Willingness to Self Censor and even Asch’s conformity research and you’ll find that people are often limited by fear of varying stimuli. Even if it didn’t, it’s still a colossally stupid argument. Fear has always been a driving force toward what people or won’t do.
    And, yes, RIF was right about the Tiger thing. It’s a decent analogy. Maybe the priest thing would have been better.
    And finally, if I were to be accused of something (I’m not a high school teacher, a volleyball coach or fat; The high school kids I see all look like they’re 10 and many of them annoy me something serious) the LAST thing I’d want would be the powers-that-be to investigate to give me my due process. Given your complete lack of faith in anything authoritative (the bosses, cops and teachers you speak of above) I can’t imagine you thinking that anything good would come of this.
    And now, the Badger game calls…

  8. great post! thanks.

  9. JR says:

    It took all I could do to stomach the ridiculous dialogues that supposedly intelligent people have made regarding the two candidates for Governor of Georgia. I’ll focus my attention on Carl Camon. Carl was accused in 2007 and appealed his case three times and worked until he got enough of it in 2009. So, he did not quit during the investigation. He quit because he refused to accept punishment for something he didn’t do. You can say what you will, but I would have done the same thing. You all need to read the whole story before you make unintelligent statements, such as what you have made.

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