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  • Writer's pictureAmy Mills

A day justice was served

Yesterday I stepped away from work for a few hours to watch justice being served.

He was my daughters theater director and teacher for 3 years, and someone I worked very closely with as a volunteer. Today he was handcuffed and taken into custody to serve a 30 year sentence.

Why am I sharing this? Because I think it’s important that people see this story and start understanding more about grooming. He not only groomed his students, but in my strong opinion, he also groomed the parents, volunteers, and community. Everyone appeared to be under his spell, except not everyone was. For the entirety of our time working with this man, it was clear to me that there was something very wrong. I felt it the very first time we met. Both my husband and I could see the predatory signs, and on a very personal level, it consumed me. I reported signs of grooming to the principle and was dismissed. For years my gut was screaming, but without physical proof, there was nothing I could do but try to get others to see it. Little did I know others saw it too but were also frozen.

I’m floored by the bravery of the young men and their families who came forward to stop this predator from harming again. It began with one young man taking a leap in a Facebook post. Within hours, and it spread like wildfire. Hundreds of people shared, commented, and showed their support. Community members, family and friends of former students, and students themselves, collectively came together in pure shock, anger, sickness, and grief. Silently, more young men started connecting and sharing their stories about being sexually assaulted by this same man. They found comfort in knowing the community believed them, whether they came into the light or not. In the end, he was charged with 10 felony counts of criminal sexual conduct related to his former students and participants in a non-profit he co-founded. He plead guilty to sexually abusing five male minors between 2009 and 2019. But there were many more that didn't come forward.

On behalf of all of the victims, their families, supporters, and friends, please consider learning more about this story and how to spot grooming. And if your gut is telling you something is wrong, please listen to it, believe it, and speak up. Whether in your personal life, or at work, if something isn’t right, say something. And if they are not listening, keep trusting your gut and speak louder until they do.

Thank you for reading this.

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