Statement of Andrew Shubin
(State College child sexual abuse attorney who represented multiple Sandusky / Penn State Sexual abuse victims and whose work was recently featured in Happy Valley, a documentary detailing the Penn State abuse scandal)
March 1, 2016
Betrayal. When Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown leaders gave pedophile priests access to children, and the time and space to groom and abuse them, they betrayed children, families and a community. We give schools, churches and coaches our children and trust and they give pedophiles the ammunition essential to abuse – access and indifference. How many children could have been saved had Diocesan leaders cared more about kids than the church’s or their own reputations?
It’s no secret that pedophiles single-mindedly seek sexual access to children; sex with children is often their life’s purpose. These predators methodically seek out exposed, at risk children to groom; patiently and painstakingly creating attachment and trust relationships by exploiting the power bestowed upon them by the very institutions we count on to protect our children. Pedophiles are drawn to schools, churches and coaching like a bank robber is to a bank — because “that’s where the money is.”
The difference between the stereotypical lurking creep in a van image and those actually abusing the vast majority of our children is the existence of a relationship of trust and power imbalance: a “religious leader” with a church’s imprimatur of trust; Jerry Sandusky with access to Penn State’s brand and a never-ending stream Second Mile’s at-risk children; an improperly supervised educator and ineffective, non existent, unenforced school policies. Many in the Catholic community seek absolution for a church and a religion by arguing that the conviction of specific abusers settles the issue of culpability: The abuser is solely responsible. Expect a similar refrain from church officials over the new grand jury report – a claim that these are nothing more than “bad apple” priests — convict them and move on. Don’t be fooled by these arguments. Institutions do more than enable abuse, they cause it. Protecting our children demands more than jailing a predator – it requires holding institutions and their leaders accountable for betraying and catastrophically injuring our children.
Andrew Shubin, Attorney at Law