Documents reveal details in alleged molestation case Around Town, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Sep 5, 2008 at 2:53 pm
Castlewood Tennis Director Henry John Germain remains in custody on charges of eight counts of sex crimes against children as his hearing was continued to next week. The 62-year-old Dublin resident remains in Santa Rita Jail with no bail, as his plea hearing was moved to Wednesday.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 5, 2008, 11:30 AM
Posted by friend, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 6:39 pm
Henry has 3 children, why wouldn't he have toys in his house?
Lots of people have binoculars,, he took pictures of his tennis students,,, were they holding rackets, trophies, why doesn't it say that, I know for a fact that he took pictures of his students and parents during tournaments, mixers when they graduated from school, christmas and easter..... Lots of men (single men) have pornography,,, just the way it is...Does that make him a pediphile?
Posted by Qwerty, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 8:34 pm
For now I'll hope that the police are doing their job. As far as the newspapers are concerned, I take what they say with a grain of salt. I've been misquoted in articles before, where people misinterpreted what I said. There are a lot of reasons why someone may have pictures in their house. Until the press (or police) tell us exactly who was depicted in the photos and who drew the pictures, I'm going to discount it.
Posted by v, a resident of another community, on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:34 pm
I agree the description sounds like any single man with 3 kids apartment. Henry takes pictures at tournaments and matches of everyone. I love how the only say tennis girls. I am sure he has pics of adults and boys too. I love how it says childrens toys. Thats so vague. They are probably video games and barbie dolls for his kids
Posted by wake up, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Sep 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm
did u guys miss the part that said he admitted to molesting children and the undercover wire. your worried about toys and videos. get a clue. would you leave your daughter with him for the weekend? stop looking for the conspiracy theory. this is not that complicated.
Posted by Qwerty, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 3:51 am
I would think that touching someone in a private area would constitute sexual abuse. Inappropriate touching might be something in any other area, not necessarily sexual, but something well beyond a pat on the back or something. A back rub wouldn't be considered sexual abuse but it would be inappropriate in a context such as this.
While I feel sorry for the girls if this really did happen (whatever it might have been). At the same time though, I also feel sorry for Henry. It is clear that the newspaper wants to hang him in the court of public opinion before any real facts come out. My brother is in his 30's and has tons of toys and photos of kids in his house. That is because he is a PARENT. So is Henry. Unless the press makes it clear what the pictures were of then I'm going to ignore the article.
Posted by An old Tennis friend, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 12:32 pm
Some of these comments are absolutely repulsing! I can't believe any of you think any of Henry's behaivor is normal and if u do u might want to seek help yourself! If you really want to support him, then let him stay with your child for a couple hours and see how that works out for you! People like Henry make my heart ache, many people trusted him with their children and he has ruined lives. He should be locked up forever, I am so glad he is off the streets! And if one more person thinks having child pornography in their house is ok then tell your boss,doctor, and neighbors about it and see how they react. And did u read the article he admitted to most of it people, don't waste time defending the unbelievably guilty!
Posted by J, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm
I never said he had child pornography OR that it was okay. It also doesn't say that it is child pornography.
He admitted to touching them inappropriately NOT sexually. Which could mean a shoulder rub, a arm around the waist, whatever. It still not okay, but atleast it's not sexual (even though we can't be sure of that)
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 1:56 pm
It is my opinion that "An old Tennis friend"'s post is a prime example of the result that occurs when newspapers play a kind of "illogical connect the dots". It is an interesting study in how the human brain works.
1) The article is about an alleged child molestor
2) The article states there were photos of children
3) The article states there was pornography
So the human brain goes "Ah ha! That person was caught with child pornography!". The article doesn't say there was child pornography, but that is the conclusion drawn due to the way the article is written.
Posted by anon, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm
Has anyone thought of how comments that minimize his confession to "inappropriate touching" might affect the victims and their families? It is no wonder these girls were afraid the come forward. Is it ever even close to OK for any child to be "inappropriately touched"? Very few have mentioned the victim's sacrifice and courage and what they must going through. Not one of them has asked for anything from anyone. They only want to prevent this from happening to someone else. I am glad they stepped forward before more children were "touched inappropriately".
Posted by friend, a resident of the Foothill Farms neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:02 pm
finally,,, innocent until proven guilty. Cholo I have seen your remarks on other blogs, you must lead a very lonely and angry life. You seem to project that you are the "perfect" human being, how do you live with yourself, it must get so frustrating. I am chosing to ignore all your comments, they are not productive, they are destructive and encourage all others to do the same. Facts, we need facts not inferences or assumptions, you cannot believe the police or the newspapers, newspapers sell stories and the police just want the arrests. Let's see some real facts come out.
Posted by friend, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:06 pm
Why did they go to the club first, why not the police, were they trying to get him fired and then file a law suit to get some money from Castelwood? Who are these girls? Have they done this before, i.e caused problems for other males if things don't go their way? We need the facts from both sides, if these girls have evidence and want to crucify Henry in the court of public opinion then they should release their information, names etc to be dragged through the media. All someone has to do is claim that they were "touched" and whomever they name is ruined for life, whether true or false. I for one would like to hear the confession tape and see the letters written to Castlewood.
Posted by k, a resident of another community, on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:16 pm
I agree with stacey.
The innapropriate touching I am also unclear about. What touching is too far? some think it's wrong for teachers to hug students. It doesn't say what kind of touching he did. I think some people might assume he grab their butt or something, but who knows maybe he did.
I know someone who is a 3rd grade teacher and her class is always running up to hug her, but she can't hug them back because that could be classified as sexual harassment.
Posted by XXX, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 2:25 pm
How sad that someone has stooped so low as to accuse the victims. I am heartbroken by the comments that state that we should reserve judgement and then go on to judge and accuse the girls (who they don't even know) of being the type that may "cause problems for males if things don't go their way". If you wish to reserve judgement then please do so for all concerned in this case. There are probably many things in this case that most of us don't know. PLEASE don't further victimize anyone who has the courage to speak up against what they feel has been an abuse. Other victims of unrelated abuse might read your comments and feel afraid to speak up against their abuser(s). If that happens, you may have unwittingly put other children in danger.
Posted by XXX, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm
Victims of abuse are often afraid of their accusers. Many have been threatened and/or told than no one would believe them. Many are ashamed of and embasrassed by what was done to them. I don't know if that is the case here, but anonymity is essential in abuse cases if you want victims to disclose. If your child were a victim of abuse, would you put their name in the paper or let the community question them about what happened? There is an underlying suggestion in many of these comments that the victims are less than truthful and/or somehow at fault here. They are not hiding, they are humiliated and afraid. The accused has a right to face their accuser in court and that will happen if there is no guilty plea in this case. The victim's identity is anonymous for good reason. Please don't discourage victims of abuse in this and/or other cases from coming forward by making comments that they are hiding something if they don't identify themselves. Please let justice take it's course and avoid underlying implications, or outward statements, that the victims are guilty of anything. The pain involved in this case is great enough already. Dont purposely (or by implication) assign fault to any victims of abuse.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 3:16 pm
It makes sense what your saying, but what about the other victims? I am not talking about the ones accusing him, but for example, his children. Two of them are in high school, what do you think is going on there? I am sure there phone is ringing off the hook, people are constantly asking questions and possibly making fun of them. Even though they haven't mentioned their names in the papers, plenty of people know who his kids, friends, and family are.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm
Dear Posters, In my opinion, friend is afraid of women. His comments about "porno" pack a charge. He's hiding something,(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)
friend, you may not be open enough to accept that Henry was arrested and presently in jail for just cause. That doesn't mean that he is guilty. He was arrested and placed behind bars until his side of the story can unfold. Henry will also have his day in court and you can be there to hear all the crazy details.
Now, boil up some nice hot water and make yourself a cup of tea! Or, if you can't live and you can't die, make coffee!
Posted by HTA, a resident of Dublin, on Sep 6, 2008 at 4:45 pm
The points "friend" makes are reasonable and the questions "friend" asks are appropriate. The articles in the Pleasanton Weekly (and in other papers) offer “information” but don't offer any counter-balance to the statements of the police and prosecutors. It’s not unheard of for cases like this to be brought too fast. Remember the Duke lacrosse players? Right now, I pray that my healthy skepticism of what I read in the paper (and support of Henry) isn't misplaced.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm
friend, I'm waiting for your response. Hiding...obsessed with your ink and paper pictures of pretend women? Itsy bitsy blinky eyes, lipstick and tee hee hee quality play in secret? Yoo hoo, friend, where do you are?
Posted by Concerned, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2008 at 8:32 pm
First let me start by thanking the Pleasanton Weekly for providing this venue. I am happy they are reporting events that are so near and dear or at least appropriate to Pleasanton and Pleasanton citizens.
I am entering this later than most of you. I have not been out of town or removed--I am just new to this blogging venue.
In reading the blogs, I see a trend in the thread (see how quickly I am catching the jargon). The first blogs were not in support of Henry Germain. Then those intimately involved started blogging--KIDS, NEIGHBORS, PARTICIPENTS. I think those that have been intimately involved and feeling so helpless started reading the blogs. Do not the rest of you see a trend? The supporters are now outnumbering the decenters.
I am afraid we might have happened upon one of those occurances where possibly a hurting 20 year old might have with or without her parents support might have been in a bad situation several years ago and might still be in bad situation and not totally settled in her mind and body. Yes, how about the rest of you--were you together at 19-21?
I hope we find that an ailing child was possibly demanding a lot of attention from somebody that so many people feel was almost saint-like in his caring and involvement with children. Possibly that child is still not healed, and almost like a cat with too much attention, turns on its owner, confidant, healer, and/or consoaler.
I know that there are hundreds of people who feel so good about Henry Germain. I know there are so many people that Henry Germain has helped. I hope we are not looking at a witch-hunt.
I have no clue if Henry has Internet access or not, but would it not be totally helpful if we could hear from him? Now, if Henry is not available to Internet access--what about his absolutely best friend--Fritz or Fridge. I think we need to hear from you or Henry.
I think there is a group that is ready to rally around Henry Germain if he is innocent. There is money to help support the innocent. Is this the right venue to organize this--I am not sure.
Thank you Pleasanton Weekly.
As for Chole (or whatever the name was). Maybe some people ( including myself) find you entertaining, but this is serious stuff.
It is time to drop a lot of the subscribers that are doing this for entertainment and rely upon a resource that Pleasanton Weekly has presented to take this seriously.
If Henry is guilty which I and a lot of other people feel is not the case with the evidence we have heard, please understand that I had a personal relationship with Henry that was kind, meaningful, and goal oriented as it involved children. Could I have been wrong--yes. Do I think I was wrong--no.
Posted by female friend, a resident of another community, on Sep 7, 2008 at 12:13 am
I had a dating relationship with Henry for a while before we decided to just be friends. Let me tell you, I saw no red flags to ever be concerned about him being around children.
On the contrary, I came to know him as a true gentleman to date, a dedicated, loving and caring father, a well respected tennis coach by his colleagues, club members and the community, and a wonderful friend.
Needless to say this news came as a total shock to me just as to so many others. He would be the last person on earth I would ever imagine doing something hurtful to anybody, much less children. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty.
I am having a hard time with what I read in the news media. I keep thinking about his beautiful children. Their lives are forever changed, guilty or not. As another blogger mentioned, they are victims here too.
Having said all that, I pray for justice to be served, both for the girls' sake and Henry's sake. I pray for those girls to find peace in their lives and forgiveness in their hearts so they can rebuild their lives, which, of course requires a lot of counseling, love and support from the community. Child abuse of any kind is a horrific crime and anyone guilty of sexual abuse should remain locked up behind bars, period. My therapist friend tells me people can have multiple lives completely separate from each other. I'm not being naive. I just want Henry to have his day in court.
Posted by stayhome dad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2008 at 8:29 am
Everyone keeps mentioning how Henry's children are victims (I agree). But no is mentioning how HENRY is responsible for making all involved "victims". Without his actions, his criminal actions, his children would have nothing to be ashamed about.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 7, 2008 at 9:51 am
Lots of people are suffering. It's never good news when anybody learns that a trusted friend, father, coach, is behind bars.
This is America and Henry will have his day in court. I only ask that Henry's supporters keep an open mind so that when the details of this case unfold, that you will be equally supportive for the victims and their families.
In my opinion, the young women are telling the truth. I am hopeful that funds will be raised to help the victims and their families if needed. I for one am prepared to contribute, so let me know when and where I can send a check.
The wheels of justice grind slowly. This is America and there will be justice.
Posted by stayhomedad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2008 at 10:43 am
I know JJ I get it. I'm not assuming he did anything other than what he already admitted to the authorities. I believe it was "touching his students inappropriately". I understand now, that this is a 'support Henry' group on here, and can't stand to read any more of this crap. You people standing by him are disgusting. I just wanted to remind people that every victim involved, and I mean everyone, has good ol' Henry to thank. So please no more bashing the "media" or "investigators" on how they might be 'spinning' the story. The authorities have the terrible task of resolving a situation that Henry created. Remember that when parents would pay money and have an instructor (Henry) teach their children tennis, that instructor "touched" children in an improper and unsuitable way. And thats ONLY what good ol' Henry already has admitted to.
Alright, I said a small piece. Now lets hear all you pedophile-friendly people out there tell me I said something untrue?
Posted by Mario, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2008 at 2:15 pm
Stayathomedad: You have no idea in what context he admitted to anything. You purport to be capable of hosting your young daughters sleepovers. That's just idiotic in this day and age. Just wait until some slick investigator ask you if you ever helped your daughter friend's tie their shoes, hook their belt...etc. Until you have actual contextual facts, go back to being what most people in our society think as an underachiever to your wife!!!
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm
Henry will have his day in court. In our country we have the judicial system...innocent until proven guilty. However, we do know that the evidence must be pretty compelling for (1) Castlewood to call the Sheriff immediatelly (2) They have Henry on tape talking to the alleged victim (3) They have information from his home (4) They arrested Henry! (5) The judge issued a warrant for Henry's arrest without bail. These are very serious charges...my guess would be that they have some serious evidence. The police don't go around arresting 62 year old males for child molestation without having something. I think before anyone tries to discredit the alleged victims, let's all wait for the evidence. I believe much more will be coming out if these allegations are true. If he is a pedophile, unfortunately there will be countless other victims. I know they're interviewing children/teens now. It's a tragic situation for all involved. I hope we can all wait for the evidence and trial if there is one, and his plea on Wednesday. I know many parents are so devastated by this because many of us know Henry and our children know Henry. He is very popular at Castlewood....if these allegations are true we will all wonder how we could have been fooled. Let's wait and see.
Posted by Clark, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2008 at 3:30 pm
The victims don't need money cholo. They would need therapy.
It's not fair that you are critizing the people here for supporting henry. It is hard for someone you know and love to be put through something this horrendous. The facts seem to be against him, so who knows. Imagine if you were accused of this? What if you're daughter had a sleepover with two friends and then they accused you of this? Even though you were innocent?
I am not supporting Henry, or the victims. I am waiting to see what invesgators and the court has to say.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 7, 2008 at 4:25 pm
If the families of the victims need money for legal fees, I am willing to write a check. I encourage anybody to make use of therapy when indicated.
Henry was arrested and incarcerated for just cause. The story of his arrest and incarceration will come out at the proper time.
I find it reassuring to read that a dad stays home and cares for his kids! Go for it!
Pedophiles are master manipulators. If you feel duped, don't be hard on yourself. Good people trust others often and then they are betrayed. You are not responsible for what has been reported. Henry is in jail without bail for a good reason. Trust that our judicial system will demonstrate how fair American justice can be.
In my opinion, Henry will eventually take up residence in the BIG HOUSE.
Posted by stayhomedad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm
Mario, for someone as dumb as you it is refreshing to see you use creative terms like "slick investigator". That paints a pretty picture.
And I am plenty capable of hosting sleepovers, and don't mention me and my fathering skills in the same breath as a man thats in custody for "those crimes". You can be as brave as you want on an anonymous site you coward, but if you want to talk about me and my wife again ...we can meet anywhere you want. I'll come alone I promise- and we can see who has a smart mouth you bitch!
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 8, 2008 at 7:40 am
My family and I are are deeply saddened by all of this. When we heard of the this story last week, our family was heartbroken and in disbelief. We have been a friend of Henry and his family since 1974. He and his wife lived and worked at the local racquet club were he was treasured by all of us there.
In today's world - evil, hate, anger, are a constant threat to all of our well beings and have heard/read about the damage of sexual abuse to a child/adult. We have also read the hateful comments posted here, and think everyone should refrain from judgement, because no matter what you believe you known - you really don't know what happened! We will continue to pray for these children(alleged victims)and their families for their healing; as well as for Henry and his family.
Posted by Lynn L., a resident of another community, on Sep 8, 2008 at 8:16 am
Be careful. There was a story in Toronto Canada that was accused of child abuse. The Toronto Police post his name in the news. The accused lost his job, he had a brillant career ahead of him, and was unable to find a job due to accusations. They were false accusation!! But the man's career was destroyed and he ended up committing suicide because he was unable to find work after the media hype. The news love to jump on these stories but seldom report when it turns out that the report was totally untrue!
Posted by Robert, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 8:22 am
StayathomeDad-With anger like that, I would not trust my daughters alone with you. I'm hoping my young daughters are not associated with your children.Many stay at home Dad's suffer from very low self esteem and reading your posts, I think you may be in this category. You should really get a job and make yourself productive and you may have less anger issues.
Posted by stayhomedad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 9:32 am
"many stay at Dads suffer from very low esteem"? That your opinion. I'm sure you could drudge up some survey somewhere, but surely so can I. ( I can find reports that state 'stay home parents' live longer happier lives and build stronger family units.) We can throw BS stats around all day. Lets stick with WHAT WE KNOW. And in all of my post, I have said NOTHING untrue...
As for me, all I know is what works for me and my family. I also know I recieve more admiration and respect raising my children to be responsible, caring human beings than when I worked 10 hours a day at someones company. And as far as me being productive, my little ones keep me plenty busy i assure you :-)
I will assume you don't have children because I would HOPE a father would rather spend a day at the park with his kids than sit in an office somewhere. Who knows how long I can do this for? I'm just going to enjoy my time with my kids and be a honest, responsible father. I benifit just as much as my children do from this.
Now about my "anger"? I wasn't (too) angry when I wrote that. I can banter back and forth with anyone on here and keep my cool. But it was seeded when he compared my actions with those of an "alleged" child molestor (or admitted child inappropriate toucher). I am innocent of everything, and your dear Henrys innocence is still in question, NOT THE SAME. And when MARIO implied some things (in which he said "go back to being"..that implies "I AM" already) an "underachiever to my wife" ... well those are words and tone that two men should have face to face. I wasn't challenging a fight or anything. But if your man enough to write words towards my family (and how we structure it) then you SHOULD be man enough to stand behind those words. It seems cowardly to talk "bad" about a mans family on an anonymous web site and then refuse to meet about it. Not to fight, but to sit face to face and see if he has the balls to challenge my manhood to my face. You see, women and children have the right to run their mouth without taking responsibility (historically), but MEN don't have that right. We can debate Henry and his innocence anywhere you want, but if Mario or You (or anyone)want to discuss my wife and kids or my family stucture, then PLEASE tell me where and when because I would LOVE to there. I'm dead serious too.
Lastly, "Ol Saint" Henry.... I wanted him hanged from the start. But now, I'm willing to shut up and wait. I am that confident that the situation will only worsen for poor ol' Henry. After all of your conspiracy theories fall out, then maybe you can accept what Henry truely is...
Posted by Mario, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 10:24 am
stayathomedad: I'm sorry to question your manhood but seriously, when you type :-) you are really showing your soft side. What man types that?! You are probably watching "The View" right now. How about let's meet at Pastime Pool, let's say 10:00am right after school drop off and after you make your wife's lunch.
Henry is innocent until proven guilty. Let the facts come out in a legal setting.
Posted by stayhomedad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 10:39 am
Pastimepool in the AM?, too many distractions there for our conversation. Why don't we make it after the kids go to sleep some night this week, around 9:30-10 any night this week or this weekend. Theres a park on Valley Trails (where it loops around). Just tell me what night and I'll meet you there. Its quiet and peacful there... no distractions. If that place is to far away for you, then pick a similar place somewhere else. I would love to meet you :-)
Posted by Cholo, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 10:56 am
(portion of comment removed by PW staff)
Henry is in jail. He is in jail because a judge ordered it. He must be very disconnected right now. Even if you show up for his hearing on Wednesday, he might not recognize you. He may be tuning out everybody just to survive internally. That's all he has now. He is feeling empty inside.
Sad sad sad. Henry is in jail for just cause and there is nothing anybody that's in love with him can do or say to change his situation right now. Yup, he's is in the pokey. (portion of comment removed by PW staff) Henry brought this whole mess upon himself.
Posted by concern parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 11:30 am
I have one question for parents out there. If your son or daughter came to you after he or she has been molested as a child by some one who is very well like , outstanding citizen in the comunity, do you beleive in your child ? and if you do , do you report the incident to the authority , or keep it quite because you know that no one will beleive in you or your child- remember he is well like by all!!!
Posted by Electricgypsy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 11:37 am
It's a terrible thing that has happened. I've only heard so many great things about Henry, and have met him a couple of times and was so impressed with the way he was so kind to everyone.I'm sad for his student's, I'm sad for his children, sad for his friends, sad for the victims. This, whatever the end result will destroy his life.I will continue to pray for our friend Henry.
Posted by Justice, a resident of the Rosewood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm
People who don't know Henry or the alleged victims or the facts: STOP POSTING! This is not a game or a blog site for you. Leave those of us truly concerned to our discussion on finding the truth.
I've known Henry since he starting coaching at CCC in 92, and I was 15. He was my tennis coach, my parent's coach, my friends' coach, and has been for many many years. I don't live in Pleasanton anymore, but my folks do. They still play at the club and are friends with him outside of the club. There has never been a single rumbling of people saying Henry has acted inappropriately or made any of the kids uncomfortable. Never with me, and never with other girls I've recently asked!
This happened hundreds of times and no one ever knew, not even the parents? They're not saying it was alleged violent acts, so why would the girls be afraid of him? Everyone who knows Henry knows that he does not have an overbearing or aggressive personality at all.
Someone made a comment about how teachers and coaches can't even hug a kid anymore because that can be sexual harassment. That's how it is now! What if he apologized for something like that, and now it's construed as a confession?
The news is full of misleading statements, like saying he had children's pictures... yes of his kids or his students, not kiddie porn. Or that he had a porno movie, but they did not say kiddie porn. Owning an Adult movie is not illegal and does not make someone a sexual deviant. It's irrelevant news sensationalism! Originally these news stories told gory details of actual sex happening and of the girls being unconscious, and then they had to retract that because it was NOT what the police were saying happened. I called and spoke to the Sgt on the case myself, just to defend him and find out some details (which anyone can do). So it just goes to show that the media can say what they want, and the truth has not actually been released by the courts. So we have no right to make assumptions or say that he's guilty.
Innocent until proven guilty! And as a previous student of Henry, I believe he's innocent, until I hear of an actual confession or undeniable proof! Those of you who don't know the facts (and no one outside the courts does), don't have the right to crucify him.
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 3:46 pm
PW-Is there some way you can delete "Cholo's" post from this blog. Please read through. There is lots of good information both for and against Henry and presented in a civilized manner. His posts really take away from what your blog is trying to accomplish. Thank you.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 8, 2008 at 5:02 pm
Mary, your brand of censorship is not the answer to this conflict. Everybody is troubled, my self included. It is always painful when a well liked adult is accused of sexually abusing children and he is incarcerated. You cannot control what the young women reported. You cannot control the gossip. You cannot control what anybody posts and you are in no position to scapegoat anybody that disagrees with you.
I have faith that the American system of justice will prevail. If the court dismisses the charges against Henry, we will all have to abide by the ruling, like it or not.
My suggestion is that you do whatever you know how to do to manage you personal feelings about what is happening online and in the press.
Get busy, exercise, eat well, stay away from mood/mind altering alcohol/drugs and put yourself in the company of people who appreciate who you are.
We will all have to be patient, respect the law and trust that justice will prevail. Until then, Henry is in jail for just cause.
I harbor no ill will toward you. Take good care of yourself.
Posted by Justice, a resident of the Rosewood neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 7:00 pm
Cholo, you are just talking like a crazy person! What are you even doing on this forum in the first place? You've shown no personal or educational credentials to be an expert on this case. You have no investment in the interests of either Henry or the alleged victims or their families. There are people who were actually involved in these people's lives personally, and you're not one of them, so you have no right to throw out these rants and insults that are based on your narrow-minded opinion. The phone number for Sgt. Raymond Kelly is (510) 667-3657. Although, I imagine your world exists merely in cyberspace.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 8, 2008 at 7:15 pm
Henry is in jail for just cause. This is not about the truth, it is about who will prevail in court.
I accept your apology. Cholo takes the high road...sometimes!
I think that some posters who are looking for the truth are off track. I prefer to put my faith in the American judicial system. Justice will prevail, like it or not. We will all have to accept the courts decision and it may have more to do with finding a balance and not an idealized truth.
I am willing to write a check and send it to the families whose children were involved in this tragic event. Say where and when, it never hurts to have a war chest.
As for Mary, I have no ill will toward you. I know that you are hurting. Take good care of yourself, it's gonna get worse.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 8, 2008 at 7:29 pm
I confess, I don't know how to use a telephone!
Incidentally, I don't believe for one second that you are who you say you are.
Justice, I have a gut feeling that you are mourning the loss of a fantasy man that never existed. Has it ever occurred to you that Henry duped you and your family? It's possible that Henry led a double life.
What you believe doesn't matter. What does matter is the balance that the court reaches. Not your search for an idealized truth that simply doesn't exist.
Until then, have a nice herbal cup of tea, it might help you with your anxiety and grief. Justice, you can fix it and I think that it's eating you up. Get the rest that you clearly need.
Posted by Electricgypsy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm
Hey Cholo, SHUT UP!!! Nobody wants to hear what you have to say. Most of us here are friends of Henry's so quit trying to have an answer for everything here that is posted. It makes you sound like a stupid idiot!!
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 9, 2008 at 6:42 am
Your evil and definately not a Christian. I agree with "justice"!!!!! Henry would never had said to the alleged victim the words: "No one would ever believe you and that it is my word against yours". I believe she has made that up, but yes I don't know since I wasn't there.
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 9, 2008 at 6:58 am
Henry never duped anybody. If you don't know him, shut up.
And Doo Doo ... touching a child does not necessarily mean that it was inappropriate/illegal.
and having pornography found - well alarming and wrong, but a single dad with two teenage boys around - could it not be possible that the boys hid it. Most teenage boys have viewed that stuff without informing parents.
So, being objective seems to be beyond most of your capabilities. And Cholo - you have no faith! I'm not talking about faith in the government and its justice system.
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 8:02 am
Kweb, maybe your not up to speed on the case (so don't try to take me on...) Henry John Germain ADMITTED to authorities that he "touched (at least one of them) inappropriately." Although he said it was not in a sexual manner? Look up the case, its pretty interested reading about your friend Henry.
I don't get the difference though. He "touched them" inappropriately to recieve some sort of satisfaction, right? Doesn't that "satisfaction" give him ...what he was looking for (trying no to be vulgar)?
Are you fine Pleasanton people going to tell me that I said something UNTRUE?? Before you answer, make sure you look up the case, so you KNOW what your dear dear friend Henry John Germain A:READY ADITTED TO....thaks, talk to you so....
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 9, 2008 at 8:17 am
Doo Doo - I have read the part about touching inappropriately. But we don't know what that was or what was even said. So don't start comparing it to Mr. Shumate, because it doesn't have anything to do with that case. You might be suprised who you are talking to when you say don't take me on. You and Stacey sound like emotions get the better of you - I know I have very strong emotions with this news as well. And if you think I missed something, provide the latest link. Thank you
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 9:15 am
Kweb, who is this Mr. Shumate? Are you aiming at the right innocent bystander? Now, I will never deny that emotions get the better of me sometimes....especially when there's kids involved. I have two myself. And the "take me on" comment was good, wasn't it. I will let you in on a little secret, I haven't studied the case, or got involved or anything. I just see what gets reported by the media. (mostly here)!
None if this mattters because you believe in him, and I don't. We will see whose right when your friend has his day in court for child molestation charges. (say it out loud sometimes) but start the statement with "My friend Henry..." And when you hear the verdict you will remember the me. Imagine a big "Kool-Aid" smile and an "I told you so" finger wagging in your direction.
The fact is, he will never work in Pleasanton again so I won't have to take a chance with my kids. This topic is getting old now, so I'll probably leave you guys alone. But when the verdict comes in.................. remember this DOO DOO!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 9:27 am
Kweb wrote: "So don't start comparing it to Mr. Shumate, because it doesn't have anything to do with that case."
A respected and well known figure within a community, with access to a large number of children, accused of molesting children. Supporters who claim the victims are making false accusations. Others who want to see the man behind bars. Discussions occurring about how the "touching" is not sexual in nature and is being misinterpreted. How does the Shumate case NOT have anything to do wih this one?!
Posted by Anne, a resident of the Bonde Ranch neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 9:43 am
this reminds me of when that teacher at Fairlands was accused of child molestation and all the elementary school teachers rallied around him and had a huge support meeting. It disgusted me. First we tell our little kids if anyone touches you inappropriately tell an adult and when this poor kid at Fairlands told an adult the adults all poured scorn on the poor kid and ralled for the child molester. You people are doing the same thing. I asked a kindergarten teacher at the time, why are you rallying for the accused, do you know he is innocent? She said "Well no but we like him. He's our friend." Good grief. No respect for truth or the poor little children.
The police have this guy on tape. Don't you get it? God help our children when adults are such lunatics. Cholo, your comments are at least amusing.
Pleasanton, Calif., reveals its aspirations in its name. Set amid the hills of golden grass that give California its nickname, between the San Francisco Bay and the Central Valley, the century-old town didn't even have a professional fire department of its own a generation ago.
Now, "the city of planned progress," as it calls itself, is a booming community of 55,000; its farms have given way to bedroom subdevelopments and the largest business park in the northern half of the state. Although three federal lockups and a county jail lie just outside its borders and crime-plagued Oakland is only 20 miles away, Pleasanton offers a refuge from the harsh realities of city life; many area police officers make their homes in Pleasanton. Ideals and expectations that might seem archaic elsewhere are still alive there.
Serious crime is rare in Pleasanton. When a serious crime is committed, it's more than just upsetting; it comes as an affront, a violation of some imagined contract. Although the town is in fact named after a Civil War general, one could easily believe it took on the name in the hope that life here would be pleasant.
But that Mayberryesque idyll was shattered in March 1994, when a popular and respected kindergarten teacher was arrested and charged with molesting several of his students at Fairlands Elementary School. Thanks to the news media, people throughout the Bay Area quickly came to know Neil Rennis Shumate--not as he had been known before, as a Boy Scout leader, devout Mormon, and dedicated educator, but as a deviant accused of fondling young children's genitals, massaging their chests, licking their ears, and whispering, "I love your bones."
In Pleasanton, the reaction was as surprising as it was immediate: Many teachers and parents lined up behind Shumate, discounting the allegations even before the facts became clear. As the case grew, so did the vehemence of the denial among those who could not believe the accusations could be true. Even after a jury convicted Shumate of every charge against him, many of Pleasanton's teachers remained firm and outspoken in their support, giving money for a possible appeal and shunning the second-year teacher who blew the whistle on him. Equally disturbing, it became apparent in the aftermath of the trial that for years school officials had taken little action on reports that Shumate was touching children in terribly inappropriate ways.
I covered the Shumate trial for a local newspaper. For me, a teacher-turned-journalist, the willingness--the eagerness--of local educators to jump to the defense of a man judged beyond a reasonable doubt to have hurt young children presented a simple and disturbing question: Why?
Before he was sentenced to a dozen years in prison, Neil Shumate, now 51, lived almost all his life in Hayward, a town several miles west of Pleasanton that borders the San Francisco Bay. His father, a marine electrician, was a manic-depressive and probably an alcoholic. His mother, a beautician, was Mormon and raised her son in her faith. An animal lover from childhood, Shumate once said he was first attracted to Joan Westerlund because she was the only person he knew who had horses. The attraction grew, and the two eventually married. She brought two boys to the marriage, and they had two boys and two girls of their own. The couple also took in foster children, including a long-term foster son who was one of Shumate's most vocal defenders during his trial.
For most of his 23 years as a classroom teacher, Shumate taught kindergarten and 1st grade. He became something of a local legend for his commitment to teaching. A reading program he developed, with a "crazy letter friend" for each letter of the alphabet, delighted children into learning. Shumate wanted his students to get as much individual attention as possible, so he urged mothers of his young students to volunteer in his classroom. Students who excelled were offered sleepover parties and rides on the ponies and horses that he and his wife raised at their home in the rural hills above Hayward. Parents spoke glowingly of Shumate and begged to get their children into his class. (He often told people during his trial that he could have filled his classes with students whose parents had asked for him specifically.) Outside the classroom, too, Shumate earned a reputation as a do-gooder, working with the 4-H club and the Boy Scouts, serving as an active member of his church, and running (unsuccessfully) for the county board of supervisors.
The trail of events that ultimately sent Shumate to prison began Wednesday, Feb. 2, 1994, with the words of a 1st-grade girl on the playground of Fairlands Elementary School. The girl was telling her young teacher, Jill Paddack, how much she liked her. Paddack responded that she was sure the girl liked all her teachers. But the girl said no, not her kindergarten teacher, Mr. Shumate. Paddack asked why not, and the girl replied, "Because he put his hand down my pants."
As it turned out, this was not the first time school officials had heard such complaints about Shumate. According to a probation report prepared to help the judge sentence Shumate after his conviction, a number of similar incidents had been reported over the years. In 1987, a student's mother confronted Shumate and John Bristow, Fairlands' principal at the time, with her son's allegation that the teacher had put students on his lap and rubbed their stomachs and inner legs. Shumate, according to the probation report, defended himself, saying the stroking "relaxed the child to read." Two weeks later, the mother confronted both Shumate and Bristow again, this time because the boy said Shumate had been "pushing him." Oddly, Shumate again said this was his way of "calming down" the boy. (After Shumate's conviction, Bristow stated in a letter to the probation department that he had "never had any complaints or criticisms of Neil Shumate related to inappropriate touches.")
In 1992, a boy and his mother told Principal Cathy Rainey about an incident that took place while Shumate was serving as a fill-in chaperone at a 5th-grade nature camp. According to the probation report, they told Rainey that Shumate had repeatedly hugged the child, even after the boy asked him to stop. In addition, they said Shumate had lifted the boy in the air, rubbed his crotch, and told the boy he loved him. Immediately after returning from the camp, a group of girls told Rainey and another teacher that on the bus ride back, Shumate sat down next to a particularly noisy girl and rubbed and patted her thigh. He told the girl and her friends that they would have to "make up time" at his house if they were not good. Rainey told the probation investigator that Shumate's "apology and explanation" had satisfied the boy's parents. As for the girls, Rainey said they were a difficult group to handle and that she had taken care of the incident herself. (The girls came forward again with their account after Shumate's arrest, telling the probation investigator that perhaps "these people would believe us now.")
Then, on April 9, 1993, a doctor at Kaiser Permanente in Pleasanton called the police to report what she'd been told during an examination of a 5-year-old. During the office visit, the doctor said, the boy's mother repeated her son's account of having "his privates" touched by Shumate during music class. According to police, the boy's mother had told Rainey about the incident. When a detective interviewed the principal, she told him, according to his one-page report, that "she does not feel that Shumate is the type of teacher who would be involved in something like this." The detective also interviewed the boy, who repeated that he had been touched but gave varying answers when asked how many times Shumate had touched him. The boy gave the names of two other boys Shumate had fondled, but those two boys, when questioned, denied they had been touched. As for Shumate, he said he could not remember ever having the boy on his lap. The detective closed the case, reporting that there was "no evidence of a crime."
Time and again, it seems, teachers and administrators, for one reason or another, had decided not to believe and not to take action, despite a California law that requires them to report any incident of suspected child abuse to the authorities. Until Jill Paddack came forward in 1994, the only person who had been in touch with the police or Child Protective Services about Shumate's behavior was someone outside of the schools--the Kaiser doctor. (The failure of school officials to pursue these earlier reports underlies a civil suit by the victims' families. The lawsuit, which names Shumate, Rainey, and the district, charges that the schools "ignored and/or condoned [Shumate's] behavior and conduct" and "failed to protect the children.")
But a serious inquest was launched in 1994, after Paddack reported the statement of her 6-year-old student. As part of that investigation, police interviewed dozens of Shumate's former students. Six--including the sister of the girl on the playground--recounted similar incidents and agreed to participate in the prosecution. As many as 20 others who were unwilling to take the stand also told police that Shumate had fondled their privates; massaged their stomachs, chests, and legs, sometimes with his hand under their clothing; or kissed and licked their ears. Many complained that he had administered birthday spankings and had often used the phrase "I love your bones." One of the most surprising witnesses was a former teacher's aide who worked in Shumate's classroom when he was 18. The man, now in his 30s and a convicted child molester himself, told investigators that he'd had sex with Shumate in the classroom after school. He said Shumate had confessed to him that he'd molested one of his foster children. (The man was not permitted to testify in court about the sexual encounter because it was seen as irrelevant to the child-molestation charges.)
After a month of police interviews, the district attorney's office decided it had enough evidence to bring charges. Shumate was arrested at his home on March 8, 1994, on seven counts of child molestation. As the investigation continued, the number grew to 10. The teacher was released three days after his arrest, putting up a rental property he owned as security against his $100,000 bail. Prosecutors made what might seem a generous offer--no jail time if Shumate pleaded guilty, registered as a sex offender, and left teaching. He refused.
It was then that investigators began talking to Shumate's foster children, and the case quickly ballooned to 25 felony counts, as three of the children came forward with some of the most graphic charges yet. One foster child, who was about 5 at the time, described how Shumate and his wife molested him while all three were naked in bed. The eight counts stemming from that emotionally troubled child's statements, however, were dropped during the trial, for reasons that remain secret by court order. The child never took the stand.
After Shumate's arrest, one would expect his colleagues and the parents of former students to distance themselves from him, if not shun him altogether. But nothing of that sort happened. In fact, more than 70 parents, teachers, and friends showed up at his arraignment to voice their support. In interviews at the courthouse that day, some parents offered an explanation that later became a central defense: Shumate's affectionate manner was misunderstood because he was a male elementary school teacher.
"We're surprised and shocked because we know him," said Ruth Hoyt, who taught with Shumate for six years. "We have no doubt he is innocent. They've taken a bunch of little things and put them together." Joan Doppler was a parent volunteer in Shumate's class for three years. "If anything happened in there or if there was anything to be seen, I would have been one of the first people to spot it," she said. "I have never seen him do anything wrong." Kathy Lloyd, who over the years has had four children in Shumate's class, said that until his arrest, Shumate would still come out on the playground and hug her 4th-grade daughter. "I just think it is hard to be a man in this profession," she explained.
Two months after Shumate's arrest, his fellow teachers, in perhaps the most dramatic show of support, overwhelmingly re-elected him the vice president of the local teachers' union. Shumate's accusers did not fare nearly as well. Several of the children were taunted and shunned by schoolmates, and their parents were bombarded with threatening phone calls. Jill Paddack, the young teacher who reported Shumate, was seen by many not as a heroine but as a villain. Scorned by a number of her colleagues, she told at least one person that she was going to quit teaching when the year was over. (She later reconsidered and now teaches at another school in Pleasanton.) Stung by all the negative publicity, Paddack refused throughout the trial, and since, to talk with the press.
In October 1994, two months before the trial, Pleasanton Police Sgt. Dow Timmen told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Shumate case "has polarized the community; it has destroyed friendships and families."
The trial began in December, shortly before Shumate's 50th birthday. It was a heady matchup of lawyers: Jill Hiatt, a high-powered deputy district attorney, and Patrick Clancy, a successful defense lawyer specializing in child-molestation cases. Hiatt had lost only one case in her career--the only case she had litigated against Clancy. In her opening statement, Hiatt talked about the similarities in the different children's stories and how the youngsters had suffered. Clancy attacked the investigation, calling it mismanaged and inept and asserting that investigators' questions had led the children to falsely believe they'd been abused. He noted, as well, that all the alleged acts took place before a classroom full of children, with adult visitors frequently coming and going.
The prosecution, of course, rested on the children's testimony. One after another, the nine youngsters--ranging in age from 5 to 13--took the stand, some sobbing, some withdrawn, one or two beaming at all the attention. They described how, in school or in their foster home, Shumate's hands had probed their nipples, buttocks, and genitals, sometimes through their clothing, sometimes through their underwear, sometimes skin to skin. Their initial statements were usually clear, but under cross-examination, they became confused. The prosecutor asked her questions briefly, but cross-examination dragged on. Under Clancy's questioning, the children often became befuddled or unresponsive. Some contradicted themselves. Others seemed willing simply to provide answers that would get them off the stand and out of the spotlight.
The prosecution and the defense both called dozens of witnesses. Among those for the defense was Lee Coleman, a psychiatrist who also testified for the defense in the celebrated McMartin Preschool trial in Los Angeles, a case now widely believed to have stemmed from false allegations drawn through suggestive questioning. Coleman spent three days on the stand, attacking the way investigators had interviewed the children and put their case together.
Shumate himself never testified. In a statement that amazed and bewildered everyone, particularly Shumate's supporters, Clancy said he was keeping Shumate off the stand because he has effeminate gestures and a voice that is stereotypically associated with gay men. Saying he was confident that he'd already won the case, Clancy claimed it was not worth the risk of putting Shumate on the stand and having jurors react negatively to him. "He's very flamboyant, waves his hands, and they may interpret something that's not there," Clancy told me at the time. "There's no sense taking the risk."
For his part, Shumate said Clancy's decision irritated him. "It's not my idea," he told me. "I've dreamed of giving my side for 11 months. He and I don't agree. But he's the lawyer, and he's the smart one."
After two months and 91 witnesses, the trial ended with Clancy giving the longest closing statement of his career. The case was handed over to the members of the jury, who deliberated for five days. They returned a verdict that stunned nearly everyone: guilty on every one of the 16 counts charged. The jury foreman told me the next day that the adult witnesses for both sides had done little to impress the panel. The jurors, he said, could find no reason to doubt the children's word, and, in the end, as they examined each count one by one, they believed the children.
At the sentencing, Judge John Kraetzer, who had been at pains to appear impartial throughout the trial, unleashed his anger in a lengthy, impassioned statement from the bench. He told Shumate of his disgust at the proven acts of molestation and the many other unproven incidents alleged in his probation report, at Shumate's continuing denial of guilt, and at the antics of his supporters. After months of legal maneuvering, Shumate was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Sending Shumate to prison, however, hardly put an end to the controversy surrounding the case. Throughout Pleasanton, the question of his guilt remained open, despite the fact that a dozen impartial people had listened to the facts and agreed unanimously on all 16 counts. Particularly among school families, the case left deep, bitter divisions. Even before the trial, children of Shumate's accusers were no longer welcome at the birthday parties of the children of his defenders. Adults found their own ways of being hostile: They scratched paint on cars and placed threatening phone calls. "It was very hard for us to leave our home without incurring some form of harassment wherever we went," one family wrote to Judge Kraetzer. "People looked angrily at us and even asked us how we could live with ourselves for what we were doing." The family, which was moving out of state, was sent a threatening note. It warned, "We will contact the school where your three children will go and tell them what a troublemaker [your child] is."
But the questions the trial raised loomed largest in the schools. And nowhere, except maybe in Shumate's home and church, was his guilt more frequently denied than among teachers. I interviewed lower-grade teachers throughout Pleasanton's seven elementary schools and didn't find a single person who clearly stated that the jury had done right or who felt Neil Shumate shouldn't be around children. To me, it was one of the strangest and most upsetting facts about the case.
For many, perhaps most, of his colleagues at Fairlands, there is no question: Neil Shumate is an innocent man, railroaded by misguided authorities who misinterpreted a teacher's affectionate touches. "Something terrible, even bizarre happened in this court case," Karla Bruen, one of Shumate's colleagues, wrote Judge Kraetzer after the conviction. "I would call it a travesty of justice. This man deserves a new trial. The truth must come out." Sonya Howes, the president of the local teachers' union, agreed. "It's wrong when a child can just make an accusation," she said. "Then, if you get a prosecutor or people who handle it in the way it was handled in Pleasanton, a teacher wouldn't have a prayer in the world." In another letter to the judge, a teacher offered this intriguing explanation for what she suggested was merely effusive physical warmth: "One of the problems in teaching young children is that you are isolated from society in general, five days a week," she wrote. "As society's values or standards of acceptable contact gradually change, a teacher in this environment would not necessarily change or even feel the need to change unless something was brought to their attention."
For Shumate's defenders, the issue was not molestation but interpretation. "I feel strongly that some innocent touching by Neil has been gravely misinterpreted by a few people who are confusing their children with 'good touch-bad touch' information," Bristow, the former Fairlands principal, wrote Kraetzer. Although Bristow acknowledged that a district program designed to teach children to reject inappropriate touching was OK, he said "there were some children who were overly sensitive to the techniques used by the presenters."
And indeed, this is the notion to which many of Shumate's defenders cling: that times have changed and that an overly suspicious society misinterpreted Shumate's innocent, caring hugs and touches. Perhaps, as Clancy suggested in his closing argument, the children had misunderstood when Shumate tucked their shirts into their pants.
Some of Shumate's supporters warned that the verdict would have a chilling effect on classroom practice, leaving teachers too fearful to hug and in other ways show physical warmth to children. In his letter to Kraetzer, Bristow wrote that Shumate had been "wrongfully convicted of child molestation based solely on innocent, nurturing, and caring touches. This miscarriage of justice ... will certainly have an impact on the entire teaching profession." Sue Thompson, an educational therapist and Shumate acquaintance, echoed this point. "It has long been known that infants who are not touched die," she stated. "Young children also need to be touched. ... It is a very sad and sick society that determines they don't want their children touched in any context. Teachers, health-care workers (including physicians), day-care workers, coaches, etc. will all be made to live in fear. After all, anyone, at any time, can now say that their touch was inappropriate, and they'll be sent to jail as a criminal."
It would be one thing if this kind of extreme reaction were limited to Shumate's closest friends and supporters. But this wasn't the case. Not one of the teachers I talked to after the verdict said Shumate's conviction was irrelevant to their dealings with children. One teacher told me, "We do our best to keep our hands off children because we know that the law will not protect us." Another teacher said, "I just think it's really sad because these kids need a lot of love, and we unfortunately can't give it to them the way that a parent can because of our society and what's happened in the past. I know I've made up my mind because I would never want to be convicted of anything like that." On back-to-school night this year, the teacher said, "we told the parents that their children need to be responsible for buttoning their own pants and taking care of themselves. We cannot do it because of the case. ... Everyone's aware of that case, and we don't want anything to happen with our jobs."
The assertion that hugging has anything to do with Shumate's conviction enrages Jill Hiatt, who has prosecuted six teachers in her 12-year career with the district attorney's office. "That's sad, crazy, crazy," she said, shaking her head. "Why should they change what they're doing? Teachers need to be physical with children. They need to hug them. They need to pat them on the shoulder. They need to touch them on the head. That's light-years away from what he's convicted of doing."
Underlying the question of why Shumate's colleagues are afraid to hug their students, though, is a more fundamental one: Why do so many believe he is innocent? Why is Shumate's guilt still a matter of doubt for so many local residents? Usually, people accept jury verdicts--unanimous decisions by a dozen disinterested people. In newspapers, we treat such verdicts as fact, no longer referring to alleged deeds or what people are accused of doing but rather to what they have done. Had Shumate been convicted of burglary, embezzlement, or assault, would so many have questioned the legitimacy of the prosecution? Clearly, the amorphous issue of intent coupled with the publicity surrounding a number of cases based on false accusation cast a shadow of doubt on all such cases. Yet, there must be more to it. I believe the reasons have much to do with the fact that the acts occurred at school and, in particular, at a Pleasanton school.
If the probation report is accurate, it took at least five separate reports about Shumate to two principals before any school official decided to notify the authorities. Some argue that these officials broke the law each time they failed to report the allegations. Why would they put themselves in such jeopardy? (Because of the pending civil suit, school administrators won't speak publicly about the case.) Why did the teacher who was told about the incident on the school bus not report it? Why did so many of Shumate's colleagues leap to his defense? And why do so many still support him? But most of all, why are so many teachers more willing to withhold their affection from their students than believe there was a sick man in their midst?
Although it has been more than two years since I was last in a classroom, I still think of myself as a teacher and of teachers as colleagues, people committed to the interests of children. And while I taught high school, not elementary school, I know that the issue of touching students is a complicated one. Even with older children, there are times when words aren't enough, when what's needed is a pat on the shoulder or back, or even, on occasion, a hug. It discourages me to hear educators suggest a connection between acts so necessary and supportive and ones so foul and damaging. It's sad to think that young children might lose out on affection because of the misdeeds of a few gone wrong.
Yet, several obvious reasons can help explain how the Pleasanton teachers have responded. We tend to believe that we are good judges of character, especially of those we believe we know well. We imagine child molesters, like other deviants, to be dramatically different from ourselves--unkempt, ugly, repulsive. Logic, however, suggests that such people would have little success attracting children. Molesters are able to satisfy their needs because they are appealing people--the sort with whom you would entrust your children.
A second reason has to do with ego: If the colleague I shared a classroom with molested his students, then what does that say about me? What did I close my eyes to? What signs from my students did I miss? (In fact, one boy in Shumate's class wore three pairs of pants at the same time and a tight belt; a girl wouldn't wear a dress.) Parents, too, might say to themselves: If I sent off my child each day into the care of a molester, then I failed in my duty to protect that child. We tend to shelter ourselves from such cruel conclusions; it's why we weave intricate webs of self-deception around an alcoholic partner or a drug-abusing child. "Parents didn't want to talk to kids because they didn't want to think they'd let this happen," prosecutor Hiatt told me. "If you admit that this was going on, it becomes very frightening. If you can be that close to it, and you don't know it or acknowledge it, boy, that's very threatening." Some parents, Hiatt reminded me, went out of their way to get their child into Shumate's class. "What have you done?" she asks. "You've put him in harm's way."
"The entire case of supporting Neil Shumate in the community and in the schools is replete with denial," Pleasanton Police Chief Bill Eastman told me recently. To disbelieve the children, he said, requires believing in a conspiracy involving the school district, parents, police, prosecutors, the jury, the judge, and the probation investigator. Yet denial, he continued, is "a very normal reaction. We don't want to believe it." A parent would rather disbelieve his or her own child than believe the worst, he said. "I can understand how a parent would dismiss something like this."
Eastman is less forgiving of teachers. "Let's cut through some crap," he said. "What you're dealing with in the schools is the teachers' union. There's a whole lot of union-mentality denial: 'We've got to stick together; it could be us tomorrow.' "
Hiatt has a different take. Asked why so many in the community do not see Shumate the same way she does, the prosecutor rises from her desk and walks over to her office window. She gazes out at the Oakland skyline for a moment and then begins to pace, as if speaking to a jury. "People see what they expect to see," she says. "That's what magic is all about; it's illusion." She recalls a photograph of Shumate sitting with his class and says that while you can't see his hands, you trust him. "You've got to remember," she says, "we're not talking about rape and pillage here, we're talking about fondling."
There is perhaps another reason, though, why so many parents and teachers lined up against the testimony of nine young children. Pleasanton is a small, homogeneous, upper-middle-class community where people move to get away from the things that scare them. Perhaps parents in a bigger, more diverse city would not be so quick to assume the schools have youngsters' best interests at heart--or to doubt children who say their teacher has touched them in ways that made them feel funny. "People in Pleasanton believe that the schools are entirely devoted to the best interests of their child," Hiatt says, "and maybe in a less affluent community that wouldn't be true. This man was reported years and years ago, and it never made any difference." Indeed, between 1987 and 1994, two principals, a teacher, and a cop all decided that they knew Shumate well enough to know that he wasn't the type to molest children. A jury of their peers says they were wrong.
A year has now passed since Neil Shumate's trial. Few people talk about it these days unless asked. Shumate himself is in San Quentin, the state prison across the bay to the north. The community has calmed, if not forgotten. "There's a sense of 'Let's put it behind us,"' says one mother who testified for the prosecution. "[People] are trying to be a little bit more mature and let everybody heal. It's slowly ebbing." And slowly, she adds, the divisions are also slipping away; different families are no longer divided into camps, and children's social lives are getting back to normal. For the victims' parents, though, their relationships with the school is forever changed. "The innocence is gone," the mother says, "the innocence and having faith in the administration."
The real damage, though, has nothing to do with schools or teachers. It is the damage done to the young children who were violated by someone their parents told them they could trust.
Standing by the window in her office, Jill Hiatt mentions the name of one of the victims. The girl, she says, "will never be right. The first time that a boyfriend or a husband touches her in the same way she was touched, and something snaps ..." She pauses. "There is a kernel of ugliness that that man deposited with these children that will live with them for the rest of their lives. That will never go away."
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:07 am
Doo Doo and Stacy - Your generalizations and lynch mob mentality is hateful, fearful and ignorant. If this was a loved family member in your own family being accused how would you behave. Would you want to hear from people like yourselves who have never known the person. I don't think you know what is best for anyone, but you sure know how to open your yap. Why do you think it is okay to judge someone. Do you know Henry at all? Do you know the alleged victims?
Stacey- The facts/evidence/accusations/media crap have no relavance to this case/trial. What do you think this is - some kind of election, who ever can say the meanest/negative things wins. Do you really want to see him behind bars if he didn't do anything to these alleged victims?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:25 am
What lynch mob mentality? Have you even read what I've written? I've not taken a position on Henry. I've only been making observations regarding the writings of Henry's supporters and detractors. I think you're exemplifying the point I'm making rather well.
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:57 am
Correction for kweb: you're and not "your". Poor English!
It must be eating you up kweb that you can't fix up this mess! Yup, it's eating you up because you cannot control what posters think.
Tip for the day: take a good look at yourself in the mirror, now flush!
But seriously, I know that you're down 'n out (depressed). Get an evaluation for meds and pop one, it might help you with your grief. That is afterall what is going on with you....you're depressed! We all understand that so you're cool.
Posted by Do Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 12:54 pm
Thanks Barbara, that was interesting reading. Seems pretty close to whats going on now with Henry. Now I understand alittle better why everyone is supporting this kind of person.
I promised to stay out of it, but I just can't help myself. Kweb, my mentality is nether ignorant OR fearful...but your right on the hateful part. I hate child molestors, I don't know how you can do it.
And to answer your question about if someone in my family was accused. (I'm sorry, how are you and Henry related again?). I would not blindly assume their innocence...not blindly like you people. I would accept the facts as they lay, and I would consider WHAT the "TRUTH" could be, and hope for the best outcome and support them whichever way it went. I would never ask other people to ignore the police evidence and admitted statements from the accused. If the "truth" was going in a bad direction, then I would start working on recovery and helping a "sick" family member. I would feel grief and shame....and I would try to help my loved ones through that rough time...I know it seems crazy...but thats how I would do it...
I think its sad that ...as a community, you people are avoiding the truth. You saw from Barbara's posting that the police and D.A. have to do an intensive investigation and start building a case BEFORE they even arrest him. Do you people honestly believe that the police arrested him and THEN try to gather proof? The proof is there (whatever it might be) and thats the stuff called evidence in court. I don't know, and don't need to know every little sick detail of what this scumbag did....the jury can listen to that stuff. The important thing is, he out of teaching in Pleasanton and behind bars where he belongs.... ( I know that stuff is still hard to hear, but your going to have to get used to it eventually)..... Henry isn't coming home for a long long time.
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 9, 2008 at 1:30 pm
I never stated that the evidence be ignored or that justice not be served. Just want Henry to get a fair hearing, etc. No, I'm not related to Henry.
So, Cholo, Doo Doo, Stacey, and Barbara do any of you personally know Henry? How about the alleged victims? You've posted stupid comments, but don't provide any insight to what happened. Let's meet tomorrow at the court (portion of comment edited by PW staff).
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 2:32 pm
Kweb, I have no problem with you personally. I'm getting the impression that your upset with me? And to asnwer your question, no I don't know Henry (thankfully). I don't know any of the victims. I'm not involved in the case, or anything.... let me think.... I don't know anyone at castlewood, I don't know the mayor, I don't know Jeb Bing....
I just love this site where people "like you" can discuss your interpretations of Henry's case. If you read back in all of my posts, I have said nothing untrue (except Henry's a child molestor)... =thats only my opinion. Other than that... I haven't mentioned any "evidence" specifically. I don't claim to know the ins&outs of the case. I have just had a long history of legal issues and I know the courts and correctional system very well. I know for a fact...and I MEAN FACT... that something happened between Henry and his students (something that maybe shouldn't have happened)... whatever it is...otherwise the police wouldn't have interrupted a sporting event and embarrassed a public figure with arrest. They can't release certain information, unless it was documented, and solidifies their case (it's illegal). I know they aren't putting all the info out there for everyone, and there might be a reporter or two trying to advance their career with fancy headlines, but none of that means that Henry is innocent.
But if you ask me, we are ALL ASSUMING. None of us writing on this site knows any facts to be true because none of us were there. SO GIVEN THAT FACT... I believe we are all guessing, and that means YOU guessing he is innocent too. And given all of the information released ...by all sources, I'm confident that "something happened" and your man Henry will continue to do his time. But what information are you going off of to assume his innocence? Besides knowing him, I mean criminals often know other people in their lives, they are people right?. What have you heard or read that makes you assume his innocence. Like I said earlier, I don't know any FACTS (like you)... and you might be able to sway me over to Henry's side... I'm listening...Can any of you Henry supporters offer anything OTHER than your past friendship with him, or belief that "he wouldn't do such a thing"...?? I'm open now...
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm
xyz, are you suggesting that G_d is on Henry's side?
When did you receive the cool news from G_d Today?
kweb, sooner or later you will have to accept that not only is Henry in jail, but he's in jail for just cause.
That's where he is and that's where he will remain until a Judge orders his release. Prepare youself because Henry might be so disconnected at present that he might not recognize you in court tomorrow.
He is mostly likely still in shock and very depressed. Not depressed because he feels remorse for his crimes but because he got caught.
I'll keep Henry in my thoughts tonight. Is there a special prayers I should say for you and Henry? Oh, I forgot, I don't pray for the devil.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 4:39 pm
I don't understand you. I feel as though my comments have been impartial yet you want to claim I'm part of a lynch mob or that my comments have been stupid. You're even inviting me (stupidly) to meet you at the courthouse tomorrow to do something that PW found fit to censor. How do you know I won't show up with a bunch of buddies or a cadre of cops? You sound like you're too close to the problem to see clearly that you even lash out at impartial observers.
No, I don't know Henry personally and frankly it isn't relevant considering that the judge and jury won't either. What about the victims? You can be sure they know Henry personally!
You're in major denial mode and that is completely understandable and normal. I knew Mr. Shumate personally. I was at Fairlands and everyone there knew him. I was in denial mode too for a long time. In some ways I still am. With my head I know he did it. With my heart I can't believe it.
Posted by xxx, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 5:08 pm
Barbara: Wow! Your submission was so good. The writing was excellent. It made me reexamine my thoughts. But, you know what? It did not convince me of Henry's guilt as a child molester. Time has passed and progress has not been made. We will be relying upon the Justice System. I hope and prayer they can be accurate.
Do the girls who are charging Henry have to disclose who they are. It seems they may be 20 to 21. Do they have to be "of age" and what is "of age"? It seems there should be disclosure of both parts.
The other questions I have is several comments have said "read the case" How do you do this? Is there a web-site where you can access the case notes?
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 9, 2008 at 5:59 pm
You're going to have to show up with everybody else and hope that you find a seat in the courtroom. You can rest assured that there will not be enough seats to seat everyone present. I will arrive very very early to make sure that I have a front row seat!
I think that lots of bloggers will show up and then post what they hear online so that coo-coo strory truly circulates! Everybody will know about Henry, his supporters and other relevant information. He will never again be able to dupe his friends like kwebe, Mary, and Mario. It must be painful to realize that the man you trusted has betrayed so many Christians. I agree with xyz that Hashem will punish him harshly. As he so deserves!
So many people are struggling to understand Henry's secret evil side. It is a stretch when you believe that he is innocent. But, he is after all in jail for just cause. That's what I"m talking about!
Now that Henry is a jailbird, he and his family will never be able to shake the stigma. They will probably have to leave the state and change their names.
Henry will always be listed as a serial child molester online. His photo will be posted and his evil deeds will be available with the click of a mouse! Yup, Henry is a jailbird and now he must pay the price for his evil deeds. Have mercy...
Posted by Mia, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 9:38 pm
It is a fact of child psychology that when adults mistreat a child, the child feels ashamed. The child always feels deserving of adult abuse. Bad treatment means 'I'm bad' to a child. This is why children don't come forward. This is why it takes years, and often the support of others, for a person to report child abuse. That is, if they ever do.
Child molesters are often supported by other adults in the community. Nobody gets more sympathy than a child molester. There will always be adults who will tell us all how stellar a human being the molester is. The child victims are seen as troublemakers and liars who ruin the reputation of these wonderful men.
That's the way it is in the good old U.S. of A. A country that likes to watch movies of women and young girls being stalked and threatened with rape. I'm so proud of us!
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:09 pm
Mia...women also molest.
You may have read on this blog that several males have reported what they refer to as average pornography. In average pornography, the women are ALWAYS objects. They are dehumanized so that the reader can enjoy his abusive fantasies. In a sense what they are relating to is paper and ink, paper dolls, buckets. When asked to explain how average pornography has become an important part of their lives, they shift the focus and then a poster will request that my posts be removed. I think that most men hate women and children are perceived as more vulnerable, defensless.
Indeed, this is a tragic event in the lives of Plutonians. However, no matter the level of denial, justice will be done. In other words, I predict that Henry will be found guilty as charged by a jury of his peers and do time in the BIG HOUSE. He belongs behind bars and he know it.
Posted by Aja, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:16 pm
I just read Barbara's post. Thank you, Barbara. I'd like to add, as someone who has worked in schools for years, that school employees rarely report any abusive behavior committed by co-workers. Everyone is afraid of losing their jobs. A teacher or other school employee who 'makes trouble' for another employee by reporting misconduct is a threat to employment and will pay for being a threat. They will be watched for slight misdeeds and eventually be terminated. That is why nobody talks. You don't threaten anyone's job and yours won't be threatened either.
Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:36 pm
The lovefest people have with child molesters is perplexing. My siblings and I were molested by my biological father. I was the first one to tell my extended family about it at age 19. Biological father admitted it. Unfortunately, back then, such things were a 'family matter', and not reported to police. From age 19 on, I was no longer invited to family holidays, parties, etc. but this man, who did not have warm relations with anyone in the family, WAS invited. My extended family knew he had molested me, and he was still welcome at weddings, Thanksgiving, etc. I wasn't welcome, because I made him uncomfortable. They wouldn't actually say 'you're not invited', but a relative would call and ask if I was planning to come, because 'he' wanted to know. 'He' didn't want to come if I was going to be there. The relatives never said anything to make me feel wanted or welcome by them, so I would bow out. They'd just say 'OK' and end the discussion. There was no "we want YOU to come."
I believe there was molestation in my extended family. I know my grandmother was molested by her alcoholic father. I believe my grandmother was in turn sexually abusive to my biological father. There's molestation in my mother's family as well.
Molestation engenders a great deal of shame and everybody wants to hide the fact of the abuse. The person who says it out loud is shunned.
I have learned to be suspicious of child molester-lovers. They're hiding something in their lives.
Posted by Nancy, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 9, 2008 at 10:41 pm
Stayhomedad, I think you're great. Your posts show that you're a decent, good, rational person. Please don't involve yourself with these people who are far below you in caliber. Really, they are far, far below you in character. They don't deserve your replies to their posts. Your wife and children are lucky to have you. If there were more people like you in Pleasanton, I'd be proud of this town.
Posted by kweb, a resident of another community, on Sep 10, 2008 at 5:03 am
I wasn't inviting you to the courtroom today. I read your earlier blogs and think you have been reasonable - and same with Barbara. I apologize to lumping you in with Cholo and Doo Doo.
I understand the information from all the people who have been molested here and the characteristics from the molesters and victims.
Elizabeth and Mia, who has a lovefest with child molesters-certainly not me or my family. Your generalizations are crap. Has there ever been a case where the alleged victims have lied? And why isn't describing the accused as a great person based on what you have known and seen is fair. It doesn't take away from the facts/crime of child molestation or prevent justice. In fact, only after every piece of information can you find the correct justice.
Cholo is right about one thing, Henry's life here is ruined. Hopefully, the alleged victims have the courgage, support to heal and recover from whatever happened. Once this is over, can any of you forgive. If you can't - then everything you say is crap.
Posted by stayhome dad, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 8:06 am
Thanks Nancy, Its really hard to find someone saying something nice about some else on here. I admitt I lost my cool alittle, but I don't visit this site very much. I didn't know how people act up on here. I was just hooked by the topic, and then got baited by others. Thanks again Nancy.
Posted by Mario, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 8:30 am
stayathomedad-yes, it was like fishing and I caught a big fish! Very funny. Like most mommies you are very gullible. It's nice that some other mommies stuck up for you. You seriously wanted to fight another blogster. You are bored for sure...
Posted by Doo Doo, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 11:27 am
Mario, I hope you had a chance to read my first response before the PW deleted it. I was rightfully deleted I thought, pretty vulgar. I shouldn't loose my cool so quickly. I told you where we can meet and I offered to meet you anywhere you want, as long as you show up (Coward!) But your a weak person and would never show up anyways. You play too many kid games. So you can try hard to feel like a MAN. (when a "stayhomedad" who you have no respect for wants to meet up and your afraid)? that doesn't make sense does it?
Remember that this post was originally about Henry, and now I'm defending my innocent family to a Coward. Strange place here...
Posted by Karen, a resident of the California Somerset neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 11:34 am
I can't thank Barbara enough for her post regarding the ex-Pleasanton elementary school teacher and convicted child molester Neil Shumate. In it a Pleasanton police officer makes the very honest statement..."A parent would rather disbelieve his or her own child than believe the worst...I can understand how a parent would dismiss something like this."
To any person who asks the question--Why don't people report child molestation immediately, why do they wait?--Read the above statement again.
I believe what the police officer said is true of many parents. It is also unbelievably sad. We fail our children profoundly. Children do not deserve the adults that we are, the people that we are. They deserve so much better.
Posted by Tia, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 11:56 am
Stacey, you write, "I knew Mr. Shumate personally. With my head I know he did it. With my heart I can't believe it."
How lucky for you, Stacey, that you have the option of not believing it 'in your heart.'
The children who were trying to protect themselves from that child molester, Neil Shumate, by wearing layers of pants, tight belts and refusing to wear dresses, didn't have that option.
They have no choice but to believe it, with their hearts, their minds and every cell in their bodies that no longer trusts adult men, that is afraid of being touched, that feels rage at being violated and a general anxiety that will be with them for the rest of their lives.
But you, Stacey, an adult who knew Neil Shumate, have the option of not believing it in your heart. How fortunate for you.
Posted by Dale, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Sep 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm
To the people of Pleasanton who harassed the families of the children who were brave enough to testify about the actions of child molester Neil Shumate in court, and to the people who treated Jill Paddack badly for her responsible and courageous action, you are worse than child molesters. Your behavior is reprehensible. How you live with yourselves is puzzling.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm
Tia, you're right that it is unfortunate for those children. But you're wrong on one thing. I wasn't an adult who knew Mr. Shumate. I knew Mr. Shumate when I was a child. So if you're trying to insinuate that I somehow was an adult enabler of his, you've missed your mark. Other than that, I'm not sure why you chose to focus your post solely on me.
Posted by Russell, a resident of Livermore, on Sep 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm
My family has known Henry for over 18 years before he even worked at castlewood. It doesn't add up. Me and my sisters as well as hundreds of other kids taught by henry over the past 16 years have never had any problems with Henry. I Dont understand how out of all the kids he's taught he's only done it to three.? Also, how do you not notice a 10 year old girl get into a car with a grown man and drive off to his house. Also, how could you molest a child in so many places over "100's" of timesand not one single person notice? It's not very likely
Posted by Tia, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm
Stacey, I don't even know what an 'adult enabler' is, so I did not make my point clear. My point is that as an adult considering the facts of the case, you have chosen not to believe in your heart that Neil Shumate is the child molester that he, in fact, is. In other words, you choose to not wholly face the reality of Neil's crimes against children. That is a fortunate position to be in, compared to the children who were Neil Shumate's victims. They have no choice but to face the reality completely.
It would serve the children in our community better if we adults faced the fact of child molestation in our hearts and minds. Then the children who are victims don't have to hear adults saying, "I don't believe in my heart that Neil Shumate is a child molester." How do you think the child victims of Neil Shumate feel when they hear (or read) an adult make that statement?
Posted by Bea, a resident of the Castlewood Heights neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 1:09 pm
Russell, people DO notice, and they don't do anything. Please read about child molester and former Fairlands elementary school teacher Neil Shumate that is on another thread with this topic. He was noticed. Adults did nothing for years.
To those of you who make the point that Henry didn't molest you, I guess the guy didn't get to everybody. Does that doesn't mean he didn't molest anybody?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm
I see your point. But I feel that you're misrepresenting my position. I do not wish it to be construed that I am being only of the opinion that I don't believe molestation occurred. As an adult considering the facts of the case, I know the man is guilty, that this happened. That is in direct opposition to what I felt in the past, as a child knowing the man, as a teen at the time the molestation came to light not knowing all the facts of the case. If you want to see that as a disservice to the victims, that is understandable.
An enabler is someone in a position to make a difference who looks the other way despite knowing there is something wrong going on.
Posted by MainStreetDiva, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on Sep 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm
Beware of drawing erroneous conclusions based upon your personal history with this man. For example:
Fact 1: He was my tennis instructor for years.
Fact 2: He never did anything inappropriate with me during all those years.
Conclusion: THEREFORE these accusations are lies.
There are variations on this theme: "We've known him for years, THEREFORE these accusations are lies." (I bet most predators have families who have known them for years!)
Just because you've known him, or worked with him, does not mean you know what he does behind closed doors. Some predators are quite skilled at appearing wholesome and mature and beyond reproach - they cultivate that persona to make it easier to lull victims (and the victim's families) into a false sense of security.