In following Aaron Fisher's efforts to get his story told since revealing that he was Victim 1 in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, I am left concluding that there is something fundamentally wrong with the prevailing culture in his former school district, the Keystone Central School District. And one really has to wonder about the environment in Aaron's hometown of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Those are big reasons I'm reposting from yesterday--and why I started a petition calling for an investigation into the district's actions here.
Consider what has come out since Aaron revealed his identity on 20/20 late last month and released a book about his ordeal, Silent No More:
- The assistant principal at Aaron's high school, Steve Turchetta, allowed Sandusky to take Aaron out of class--and even allowed him to take him off campus--without even bothering to ask Aaron's mother for permission. To make matters worse, he admitted under oath to a grand jury that he was suspicious about Sandusky, but continued to allow him to take Aaron and other kids out of class. How in the world is he not facing charges of child endangerment, let alone still drawing a paycheck?
- The principal, Karen Probst, not only failed to make sure Aaron's mom was told that Sandusky wanted to take Aaron out of class, but when he finally revealed that he was being molested, told Aaron and his mom to go home and think about possible repercussions rather than call the police right away. She then covered herself by calling Children and Youth Services--but only after it was obvious Aaron and his mom were headed there themselves. Moreover, when Aaron was being bullied after the scandal broke in full, she failed to do enough to protect him, forcing his mom to yank him from school. How does this woman still have a job?
- Soon after Aaron reported what happened and Sandusky was banned from campus on CYS' orders, several parents and students accused Aaron and his mom, Dawn Daniels, of trying to wring money out of Sandusky? How were their names leaked?
But perhaps most disturbing of all is something that Daniels and her friend, Judy Fox, have told me of late via conversations on Facebook. I got in touch with them via a Facebook group Fox put together to help organize a rally for Aaron last month. They've told me that people in the area are in active fear of speaking out, for fear of reprisal from the school district. Indeed, according to a recent story in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, several people actually think no one has any business speaking out against the school district in this. In other words, those hoping to shine the hot lights on how badly the district mishandled this have essentially been told, "STFU!" In what world is this acceptable?
Moreover, Daniels has told me that Mike Gillum, the psychologist who has been working with Aaron for almost four years, may not have his contract renewed by Clinton County. He's been working with CYS on a contract basis for some time. Apparently county officials don't like how Gillum blasted then-state attorney general Tom Corbett's handling of the case (for instance, they were given no fewer than three arrest dates with no action), and also didn't even want him helping Aaron and Daniels write the book. Is this any way to treat a guy who helped take a monster off the streets?
One thing is clear beyond all doubt--the culture in that area needs to change, and change fast. And if the powers that be over there aren't willing to change it, someone needs to change it for them. So sign this petition telling the Keystone Central School District to investigate how its administrators responded to this.