Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is He Really Guilty?

Judaism considers those who enter the field of education to be among our finest people. Many truly great educators have sacrificed  careers in far more financially rewarding fields so that can teach, inspire, and influence young people to become the best people they can be in their adults lives.

People like this often become very popular among their students as they mentor these young people year after year in the school - building upon their reputations. And because of their ‘giving’ type personalities they often involve themselves heavily in charitable enterprises outside the school. They are givers; not takers.

So when a person like this is convicted on multiple counts of child sexual abuse as has recently happened, there can easily be a sense of disbelief by his family and supporters. How could a respected man, who is so charismatic; so popular; who is so gentle, easy going and generous to a fault with his time; and so involved in charitable causes - be guilty of such monstrous crimes over the course of his long educational career?!

Adding to this sense of disbelief is the fact that he is a family man who has been married to his loving wife for over 45 years; has loving children; and was never once observed by his wife in any compromising situation with a student. And he is accused of abusing his students for over 15 years?! Not possible!

To be honest whenever I see his image in the media, I have a similar feeling. This guy looks as innocent of these crimes as could be. He has been protesting his innocence since the very first accusation came out in public. Why shouldn’t he be believed? Why believe a student or even a group of students who may have some sort of vendetta against him or his school?

Maybe this is all about the money? Maybe the accusers are the guilty ones – making up stories so that can sue the school for millions of dollars? How is it possible that a 15 year “career” of abusing his youthful charges hadn’t come out until now? He must be innocent! Where is the justice? Where is being Dan L’Kaf Zechus?

I guess it’s understandable that there is a certain amount of disbelief – even after he is convicted. I recall one rabbinic leader who - together with his entourage - visited one such convicted child sex abuser last year proclaiming the fellow’s innocence. And his conviction to be a sham! He knew that fellow and considered him to be an exemplary Jew. One who until the accusations came out - had a pristine reputation. The victim and others who testified at his trial were considered to be liars and outcasts out to destroy the reputation of the community.

So it should not come as any surprise that there are some people who feel the same way about this educator and feel outraged at the minimum sentence of 60 years in prison he faces.

I don’t know this fellow personally. But somehow I believe the accusations made against him are true. Especially since the verdict at his trial came so quickly. I know it is always a good idea to judge people favorably and give them the benefit of the doubt. But after thinking about it and evaluating arguments both pro and con - despite his reputation, long and illustrious career, and good works - I think Jerry Sandusky is guilty and deserves his fate.