Dear women, the world needs you in positions of power
By: Anthony Conwright
There is something deep seeded within the systems of the Catholic Church, Penn State and the United States Military that makes reporting rape and molestation an inconvenience. Every report dealing with the issues of rape and molestation in the Catholic Church, Penn State and the United States Military shows that there are rarely any women in a position of power that has the authority to directly intervene in the incidents of the rape and molestation that has taken place. In the cases of Penn State and the Catholic Church there were women that, if they had been in positions of power, would have directly intervened and possibly saved others from abuse.
In 1981, Jackie Gauvreau, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist, discovered that Rev. Paul Shanley molested a 15-year-old boy she knew. After she became aware of the molestation, she made multiple attempts to notify priests, a bishop, and even Cardinal Bernard F. Law. However, her attempts were futile as she was systematically ignored. Shanley was advised to “forget about the phone calls and disconnect the phone.” Even after priests, Bishop Banks, Cardinal Law were aware of Rev. Shanley’s molestation accusations he was transferred to different parish, awarded sick leave and was even referred to as a “priest in good standing.” He managed to accumulate such a status after multiple accusations of molestation from 1961 – 1988. At one point, in 1988, seven years after Jackie Gauvreau and atleast three accusations of child molestation later, Bishop Banks did question Shanley about allegations of sexually “coming on” to a mental patient at McLean’s Hospital but would conclude that,” if Shanley denied the allegation, that there was nothing he could do.”
The Penn State scandal mirrors the ills of a male autocratic and patriarchal culture. According to the Freech report, “before May 1998 several staff members and football coaches regularly observed Sandusky showering with young boys.” The reports also points out, “none of the individuals interviewed by the Special Investigative Counsel notified their superiors of this behavior.” On May 3rd, 1998 Jerry Sandusky showered with a young boy and during the shower wrapped his hands around the boy’s chest and said, “I’m gonna squeeze your guts out.” Later, when asked about whether his “private parts” touched the boy while they hugged, Sandusky said, “I don’t think so… maybe.” In similar fashion to the Shanley case, it was a woman, the boy’s mother who brought the incident to light when she noticed that her son’s hair was wet after coming home from being with Sandusky. The mother called Alycia Chambers, a licensed State College psychologist, and was advised to make a report to the authorities. The Freech report finds, “Despite their knowledge of the criminal investigation of Sandusky, Spanier (President), Schultz (Senior Vice President), Paterno (Head Coach) and Curley (Director of Athletics) took no action to limit Sandusky’s access to Penn State facilities or took any measure to protect children on their campuses.”
The U.S military follows the same pathology of Penn State and the Catholic Church. Kori Cioca was raped and suffered a broken jaw by a commanding officer while serving in the US Coast Guard. When Kori tried to move forward with her case, her own commanding officer told her she would face court martial for lying. Her assailant would eventually admit to the assault (not to the rape), and would receive punishment by being restricted to the base for 30 days and docked some pay. Suzanne Swift reported incidents of a platoon sergeant that made sexual advancements toward her and later reported it to a soldier designated to handle equal opportunity complaints, but nothing happened. Another sergeant was given a letter of admonishment and was transferred to a different unit after he told Swift to report to duty “In my bed, naked.”
What would have happened to Suzanne Swift if a psychologist such as Alycia Chambers, was the officer Swift could report to? What would have happened if the Jackie Gauvreau had been the president of Penn State? It is clear by their actions a system of “hush and cover” would have been able to sustain. I did not write this to assert that all men are bad. My assertion is that a system that is autocratic, patriarchal, and misogynistic is bad and putting more women in a position of power would be a great start in curtailing the lackluster attention that is given to their plight.