Jackson's acquittal

Monday, June 20, 2005

Springfield News-Leader

A jury found Michael Jackson not guilty of molesting an adolescent boy. The verdict, after a four-month trial, is a stunning loss for a prosecutor. The circus-like atmosphere that led to it is a greater loss for child abuse victims everywhere.

Jackson's defense hammered away at the credibility of his accusers, painting them as scam artists. It is a tactic not far removed from portraying a rape victim as a harlot.

When such tactics gain widespread use from defense attorneys, they keep false accusers at bay -- but they also discourage true victims from coming forward.

That will be the fear after Jackson's overly publicized trial. That would be too bad, because this trial was as removed from reality as Michael Jackson's world apparently is.

Most child abuse is perpetrated by a relative or close friend. It represents an abuse of trust, first in the violation and then in the threats made to cover up the crime. It can leave lasting emotional scars.

That is why parents, teachers and other trusted adults need to listen when children try to tell them of abuse -- whether forthrightly or in a changed personality. It is why prosecutors must pursue these cases. And it is why the distorted story lines of the Jackson case must be ignored, in favor of life as it is really lived.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: