Editor, Times-Union:

While President Trump was in office, his department of justice issued this statement, “every 68 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.” According to World Health Organization data, 1 in 4 women in America are sexually assaulted by the time they reach the age of 25. This is a serious problem that deserves a much greater focus.

The news recently was flooded with a local situation that while the perpetrator admits to an “affair,” he is now protected by the statute of limitations from prosecution. A recent letter stated that according to facts known, that the perpetrator while wrong for what he had done, had committed no crime. That would be true only IF the victim had been 16 or older at the time AND the act had been consensual. From the comments the victim has made, I don’t know how anyone could conclude that it was consensual.

Hepzibah House was mentioned in the letter as well, with what was considered absolution by a DCS investigation. However, there have been other investigations which cast a much different light on the situation there. A family member of the operators corroborates the accusations made by many former students. It appears that a religious organization is allowed by the state to operate as they so choose with minimal interference or oversight.

Could that be why up to 200 students were abused by a local professor (as per a recent Times-Union article) and no charges were filed? Again, it appears because it involves a religious organization that there is great latitude given to resolving such issues “in house.”

Should this much leeway be given to religious organizations or does this lead to further abuse? The answer appears to be self evident.

Sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions in this country. According to the Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network (RAINN) only 1 in 3 rapes are reported. Victims need to be supported and encouraged to report these crimes. What are we doing wrong to allow for such a failure? Can we not do better than letting two-thirds of the perpetrators walk free while victims suffer from it for the rest of their lives?

Travis McConnell has focused a spotlight on this issue in our community. I appreciate him taking the problem head on. His recent actions in the Pierceton Woods Academy sexual abuse case show that he is more than just talk.

I am the father of two daughters and grandfather to two granddaughters. If a family member of mine is attacked, I want to know that the prosecutor’s office will go after the perpetrator regardless of their profession. Travis McConnell will do that.

Don Zolman

Pierceton, via email