American author, Ernest Hemingway once said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
When you give someone your trust, you get either two things in return: An expectation of trust or a breach of trust.
And sometimes, people in trusted positions harm those they’ve been entrusted to care for.
The Sandusky abuse scandal
By now you may have read about Jerry Sandusky: the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse of children.
It’s a scandal that’s continuing to make headlines since 2011, as more players (including Penn State’s former president, Graham Spanier and head coach, Joe Paterno) have come under fire for allegedly covering up Sandusky’s crimes.
During the trial (which took place in 2012), multiple reports of Sandusky showering naked with and sexually abusing young boys emerged. It was noted that Sandusky engaged with one of his victims by “taking him to sporting events” and “giving him gifts.” Sandusky also “threatened to harm the victim and his family if he alerted anyone to the abuse.”
As the assistant football coach at a top university, you’d think a person like Sandusky could be trusted. But nothing could be further from that hopeful assumption. The fact that the entire scandal involved several university officials who tried to cover the allegations up makes it even more alarming.
Just two weeks ago, it was reported that Penn State’s former president, Graham Spanier will stand trial for his role in helping to cover up Sandusky’s crimes. Once respected as “one of the nation’s most well-respected university presidents,” Spanier is now facing felony charges of conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child.
Sexual abuse in nursing homes
In recent news, a CNN Investigation revealed the “little-discussed issue” of rape and sexual abuse happening in nursing homes across the country. An issue the investigation noted is “more widespread than anyone would imagine.”
Like the Sandusky case, many of these cases of vulnerable seniors being taken advantage of by the very people employed to care for them are going overlooked by nursing homes and government officials. And sadly, many victims can’t remember what happened or who touched them.
In one case, nursing assistant, George Kpingbah was sentenced to eight years in prison for raping of 83-year-old, Sonja Fischer. During sentencing, the judge told Kpingbah that he “violated (a) position of authority, a position of trust,” and that “The ramifications of what you did are so far-reaching.”
Being cared for: How to avoid abuse
Whether you or a loved one are in a position of being cared for by someone in a position of trust, following these tips should help ensure that a line is never crossed:
• Keep in contact with trusted family, friends or neighbors, to help lower the chances of abuse happening.
• Any usual act or behavior by the person in the position of trust must be conveyed to an authority (before things get worse).
• Recognize that threats exist. Develop a situational awareness mindset to spot a predator’s motive before an act is committed.
• Keep in mind that just because someone was hired by a recognized facility, school, etc., it does not mean they can’t be living a double life or hiding a secret that might cause them to commit a crime.
Trust is delicate. Treat it as such.