By Sandy . . . We’ve all read the testimonials. He was arrested for embezzlement, but he was a good husband, devoted father, and active community leader. She was discovered to be part of a fraudulent art scam, but her employers praised her as a model employee and asset to the company. We recognize that humans are complex; they can be model citizens in some aspects of their lives but break the law in others.
Except for those labeled sex offenders. With them, there is no “but.”
This was shown clearly when a military hero and Purple Heart recipient, after being given a special honor, was then rejected because he was on the sex offender registry.
And now we have the case of a guidance counselor at a school who has been charged due to having an inappropriate relationship with a student. At her sentencing hearing, she was supported by fellow teachers and administrators from her school. They spoke about her skill as a guidance counselor and her dedication to her job.
And they are being severely criticized for it. They “…should know better than to speak in glowing terms…” about her, this editorial says.
Why? She had been a skilled and caring guidance counselor. She was dedicated to her profession and her school. Yes, she crossed a line that should not be crossed. Yes, she violated the trust that had been placed in her.
The positive testimony given about her is being credited with her receiving a sentence more lenient than what was sought by the prosecutor, who issued a press release expressing her strong disapproval. The situation was also severely criticized by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, who claim that those who supported her showed a lack of concern for the students at their school.
Why is it so hard to recognize that those who break the laws of sexual crime are, just as with all other types of crime, complex human beings who are capable of both good and bad, and that doing bad does not erase or negate the good that one has done in the past or will do in the future?
Or, as recently expressed so well by my esteemed colleague Robin at the conclusion of his recent piece about Thomas Jefferson, “…maybe the story of Thomas Jefferson is teaching us another lesson, one that we so desperately need. Maybe what we see in Jefferson is the capacity of great sinners to coexist with great saints, and often in the exact same body.”
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.