I was contacted today by Matt Lauzon, the founder of Dunwello, who I had met previously when he was running his startup Gemvara. I always liked Matt and found him to be quite thoughtful so I enjoy when he reaches out.
This time it wasn’t pleasant.
He was asking me for a simple favor. He wanted me to read some information and if I felt both moved and comfortable he wondered whether I would retweet him. I couldn’t. Not because a retweet was hard for me but because it wasn’t enough.
I used to write personal posts on these pages and I mentioned earlier in the year I would do so from time-to-time. Now seemed the right time.
Matt brought to my attention an issue that deserved increased awareness on multiple front: Police abuse, police cover-ups and child molestation. Why do I feel compelled to write about this? Aside from wanting to help out a colleague and decent person – I also can imagine how hard it must be for somebody in our society to be public about something as traumatic as sexual abuse. It was the second such instance in the past month where this had come up.
Last month I met with Adi Sideman of YouNow, a website that is really innovating in the field of live streaming. When asking about his background he told me that he was an award winning documentary film maker. Huh. I love film and in particular I love documentaries. I asked him what film he had made and it was Chicken Hawk, a film about the National Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). He spoke openly and unashamedly that his inspiration for the film was exploring the fact that he was molested as a child by a neighborhood deviant. I admired him for bravely taking on an issue most would hide from.
Two weeks later the message from Matt. In it he links to an article outlining a police officer who had molested him as a child and then bullied him into silence. I felt devastated for Matt for both having to have to deal with this as a child as well as the aftermath of a system that ignored and then covered up the behavior of this terrible person.
If you follow the link above you’ll get the full story, which in summary is that police officer Stephen Dodd of Maine molested Matt and many other children in the neighborhood – many of whom have now come forward. He was never prosecuted but was later “asked to retire” after a similar accusation and he moved to Florida to retire with a full pension. He was recently arrested for fighting with his
over a sex toy (yes, this is true).
The Biddeford Police Chief, Roger P. Beaupre, is the same chief in charge during Officer Dodd’s service and refuses to look into Matt’s or the many other allegations. He has begun to try and silence others in the community not to work with Matt or aid in his bid to grant an investigation. The entire story with full details is linked here.
If decent people like Matt can be brave enough to come forward and confront wrongdoers then the least I can do is help lend a voice to their cause. Matt, I’m wishing you peace and strength for your fight ahead and encouragement for the comfort you must be bringing to all of the other victims from your childhood.
There are few crimes worse the child rape or molestation. As we learned in the Jerry Sandunsky case at Penn State, even upstanding individuals often don’t speak out when they suspect the possibility of child abuse and it will forever tarnish the reputation of Joe Paterno and the Penn State football system. No crime is too small to go reported, no amount of abuse is tolerable and silence in light of knowledge is complicity.
We must all speak up.
The rates of child sexual abuse in the United States are staggering with the incidences as high as 1-in-5 for girls and 1-in-20 for boys.
I know this issue won’t resonate with absolutely everybody and some won’t feel comfortable sharing or retweeting. But if you feel OK about it I’m sure matt would appreciate the support of a simple RT as a sign of support and to spread the word.
If you want to know how you can help Matt Lauzon he left some details on his page, which I copied below.
Some have asked what they can do. Here are some things that would help:
– the ACLU getting involved (@ACLU)
– national press covering this
– the Governor of Maine getting involved (@Governor_LePage)
Governor’s Office Phone Line – 207-287-3531
– commenting on the BPD fb page to make it clear that the community wants answers and solutions: https://www.facebook.com/BiddefordPD
– and Oprah getting involved, as she is a sexual abuse survivor and advocate herself: She is the holy grail (@Oprah)