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Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 11, 1999


  Wash. Post


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Harold Keller / L’Observateur / August 11, 1999

The arrest of Brian Matherne, a popular teacher and coach at Sacred Heart School in Norco, sent shock waves throughout the area. Matherne wascharged with 400 counts of sexual abuse involving a number of charges, including sexual battery, aggravated oral sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and carnal knowledge of a juvenile.

I’m reminded that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Let’s imagine,however, that the accused is guilty. How could this have gone on so long?Why didn’t the victims speak up before this? Keep in mind that Matherne was a trusted friend, a community leader. Thekids under his supervision looked up to him. The parents trusted theirmost precious gifts (their children) with him. The victims didn’t talkbecause when children are robbed of their innocence, they feel dirty and keep it a secret. How many kids were victims? No one will ever know.In a report I read from President Reagan’s commission on pornography and child molestation, it stated that a child molester will abuse 267 children before they are caught. Sounds unbelievable? Over 15-20 years, it isindeed possible.

Who’s responsible for having so many children robbed of their innocence? Surely the accused, if convicted, has to pay for his crime, but as a society, do we carry any of the blame? I think we do. We allow pornographicmaterial to be sold in our communities. Pornography is the tool most childmolesters use to encourage their victims to participate in their sick practice.

Do we hear more now about sexual abuse of children than ever before? Yes.

The problem is one of the biggest crimes against innocent children. It issaid, according to experts, that one out of four young girls in America, and one out of six young boys, will be sexually abused before age 12. I’ve hadadults question these statistics, but have yet, in any young group, had the kids question the authenticity of that research.

The Bible says that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we have to become like little children – innocent, pure, and Christ-like. Matthew18:5-6 says: “And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Meto sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur

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