Saturday, June 23, 2007

On False Accusations

I am a foster dad in a treatment home which seems to have begun specializing in teen girls. Thus, the possibility of false accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior weighs on my mind quite heavily sometimes. I am unable to spend much time in a one-on-one situation with any of these girls as a real father might, and I have to be very, very careful and aware of my surroundings and the situation at all times.

That's sad, but it's the world as it is. Other people are starting to notice this state of affairs in other similar environments such as the Big Brother/Big Sister program, too:

Perhaps men are merely acting rationally. They’ve assessed the risk of volunteering to work with children, and want no part of it. If so, that’s why BB-BS rates of male participation are well below national averages, which include volunteering that doesn’t involve children. Men have been reading the newspapers for the last 30 years, and don’t want to end up like Gerald Amirault, who served 18 years in prison following a child abuse witch hunt in Massachusetts, or like Grant Snowden, the Miami police officer who served 12 years behind bars as Janet Reno’s stepping stone to national office. They’re aware of cases like that of teacher Mark Fronczak, who was arrested, tried and found innocent, but “Besides his career, Fronczak lost his house and life savings during the ordeal. He voluntarily gave up custody of his two teenage sons to his ex-wife after his arrest. … “My life as I know it has been ruined,” he said. Fronczak would have been imprisoned for life if convicted.”

Further, when an accusation happens, men may worry BB-BS will react the way Duke University’s president, Board of Governors and faculty did despite the extreme improbability of the allegations against the three student victims.

As I said, I'm well aware of the risks I'm taking to help these kids...but I'm a hard case, and I don't feel I have an option. I'm in this thing, no matter what. I can't not help these kids. If there's a false accusation, then there just is. Somebody has to help the ones that need help, and that would be us. It's who we are. All I can do is whatever I can do to limit my exposure.

But this article and the links there point to the reasons groups from BB-BS to the Boy and Girl Scouts to the YMCA to foster care are having difficulty getting volunteers. If you're not a nut about it like we and our fellow bloggers (see sidebar) are, you'll probably think two or three times before opening yourself up to frivolous charges that could reasonably be expected to wreck your life.

I've accepted the fact that in the current political climate I could be convicted of a felony and have my life ruined if we get the wrong girl in this house and she is able to convince certain people that I did something to her.

The sad part is, there doesn't seem to be any need for evidence of wrongdoing in cases like that...if the girl is cute and the opportunity existed, then I'm apparently guilty by default and will lose my house and do jail time unless I can somehow prove my innocence. Our SW has even told us quite forthrightly that if either of us is ever accused of anything, no matter what the circumstances or likelihood of accuracy, our organization will not stand by us, nor even talk to us about the issue until a full investigation has been completed. Of course, at that point it may be too late for us if the wrong person is running the investigation. We've heard horror stories at our trainings about this very issue.

Why do we continue then? Because we have to. It's who we are. If you love golf, how do you stop being a golfer? It's too late. You already can only be a golfer who no longer plays. If you love animals and have pets, how can you just stop? You'll still love animals. If you love God, how do you stop praying? You'll still love God.

If you're not a foster parent and are considering doing what we do, it would behoove you to consider how you would respond if you suddenly were sued for something you didn't do and the system that recruited you didn't back you up. It probably won't parents made it through nearly 30 years without any legal trouble. But it's a changing world, and the politicos, feminists, well-financed trial lawyers and others are doing everything they can to put men behind bars, sometimes regardless of whether they're really guilty or how good their previous record is. Witness the recent Duke Lacrosse case.

At that point, will you be sorry you ever got into fostering? I've considered it carefully, and I know I would not be sorry. Not at all. Because the work we're doing is way too important to let some lawyer or "political activists" prevent it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home