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Balance power: Work to ‘become the change you want to see.’
Last week, I was tempted out into the cold of the night – twice – to attend two community evens, a book reading and a lecture. First, I heard Greg Gibson speak about his book, “Goneboy: A Walkabout.” Then I heard Sharon Simone speak about her life, the story of a little girl who had been sexually abused by her father.

Both events seemed to be about two different things. Gibson lost his son to a shooter and Simone lost her childhood to an abuser. But, the common denominator was violence.

The violent connection to Gibson’s story is obvious. His son was randomly, brutally murdered on a college campus. Simone’s violent connection was a little less obvious, to the uninitiated, as she was billed as the victim of sexual abuse. And, her lecture did not, specifically, focus on the sexual abuse she had suffered at the hands of her father, an FBI agent who was also an expert in child abuse. She said she was beyond that.

She wanted to talk about the absolute root of violence which, she has come to believe, is the imbalance of power in relationships. If there is no equality of power, then the seeds for violence are there, ready for action, against the self, or against others, she said.

Certainly, there was no balance of power between this child and her father, a well-respected G-man.

Most striking about Simone’s talks was how she still struggles with the baggage she brought to her children: three out of six kids were suicidal; two were in battering relationships; one was an alcoholic; one remains addicted to drugs. The others are OK.

Simone, now 55, was successful, a wife and a mother. She believed she had overcome her abuse as a child, until she hit her 40s and lost her ability to stay in control of her feelings of hurt, anger and betrayal.

As a result, she sought help. She confronted her father and won a case in court against him. She said she needed to do that to feel she now had power over a situation she had had no control over as a child.
She needed to find that balance of power.

Once she had done that, she was able to learn about her own behavior which, although it had resulted from her very real trauma, was affecting her entire life as well as the people around her.

A major component of her life, of keeping herself feeling in control, was to constantly give and do. It made her feel strong and powerful but it made others feel inadequate and resentful.

She also learned that, as a result of feeling she was ‘under her father,’ symbolically as well as physically, she rebelled against boundaries and gave her children few rules or consequences.

She literally ran from feeling anything. She became violent toward herself, preferring to feel the pain of hurting herself rather than the pain of what her father had done to her.

And, she said, in a voice still tinged with sadness, she learned that one of the most painful of her losses was ‘there can be no singing, no candles lit in celebration.’ She was unable to feel joy.

But today, Simone is okay, and from her own experiences she developed a personal philosophy about the balance of power that she is expanding to apply to a broader community of victims of violence.

That philosophy revolves around the belief we all have some ability to make change—by becoming the change we want to see. It is not a unique philosophy. It’s not even unique that powerlessness breeds violence. Some know it, some don’t.

But, what is unique is Simone’s ability to overcome the ultimate (outside of murder) violence that can be done to a child, sexual abuse by a trusted parent; accept her own destructive behavior, face it head on and work to untangle it, and put a face on it and take her story on the road to help the rest of us understand the ramifications of the loss of individual power.

We may never know the power imbalance that affected Wayne Lo, who murdered Galen Gibson, but it’s a safe bet it was there.
From Simone we can learn to be aware of any imbalances of power in our own lives and work to balance it.

If we don’t, Simone said, people will put up shields. They will not be in contact, and it is being in contact that allows us to feel. ‘One of the profound effects of violence is separation from oneself and others,’ she said. ‘What if it’s about us, not just me?’ she asks.

Think about that.

The Washington Rimes – Letters to Editor

America’s Newspaper
WESLEY PRUDEN, Editor in chief
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Deputy Managing Editors
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Recalling the facts about traumatic amnesia

Suzanne Fields’ column is replete with misinformation apparently culled out of a False Memory Syndrome foundation press kit (“The inexact science of the human mind,” Op-Ed, Jan. 19).

Why has she avoided reporting on the scientific research on traumatic amnesia for childhood sexual abuse? At least, she could have noted the widespread disagreement of mainstream practitioners with the royal College of Psychiatrists’ report. But, the real question is: Can support groups for parents accused of sexual abuse (and in some cases convicted or held liable) ignore or suppress what the scientific research actually says, substituting instead their own denial as science? apparently they can, and have even persuaded the media to help them.
There is a hundred years of research on memory loss or amnesia associated with traumatic events such as combat, torture, natural catastrophes, accidents, abuse and crimes. World War II produced some solid documentation of dissociation and memory lass associated with the trauma of war. At least 36 recent studies demonstrate the phenomenon of traumatic amnesia, and show that it is possible to accurately recall suppressed memories of childhood sexual abuse.

Nevertheless, historical revisionism is alive and well, led by parents who want to reframe their son’s and daughter’s memories in an effort to blot out what actually happened. Some families have reconciled by pretending nothing happened or by blaming a therapist. The most courageous have faced the past and themselves, forging new bonds based on empathy and responsibility — the true qualities of caring parents.

In the future, I hope Miss Fields is prepared to explore the wealth of scientific research supporting traumatic amnesia, and address the public health epidemic of child sexual abuse our country is facing.

President and Counsel
One Voice: The National Alliance for Abuse Awareness

Suzanne fields’ column “the inexact science of the human mind” was a very irresponsible piece of journalism. Ignoring the facts about recovered memory, she presented an inaccurate and biased view about a psychological phenomenon that has a long, documented history.

None of us wants to believe that adults use children for sexual gratification. but they do. Children who grow up being violated by adults close to them cannot bear to feel the pain of such betrayal. Some children develop dissociative defenses to protect themselves from the pain and to allow themselves to continue surviving in an abusive environment. Although some children cannot block out memories of abuse, it is common for those who are repeatedly abused to forget the experiences until later in life. Just ask the victims of former priest james Porter. Or Ross Cheit, the Brown University professor whose delayed recall of sexual abuse resulted in a successful lawsuit against his abuser. Or Marilyn Van Derbur Atler, a former Miss America whose father sexually abused her throughout her childhood.

Miss Fields should get information from clinical sources rather than the self-serving rhetoric of advocacy groups made up of parents who have been accused of abusing their children. her inaccurate and inflammatory piece has done a disservice to the many victims of abuse who were silenced in childhood.


My dad abused all seven of his children. I didn’t remember some of it until my 40s. My sister and I sued him for childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse in 1990 and won a $2.3 million judgment.
It took a lawsuit; a $2.3 million jury award; a 20/20 ABC news segment, “Incest: A Crime never forgotten”’ a CBS television film, “Ultimate Betrayal”; my getting federal legislation passed (Child Abuse Accountability Act); and his nearly dying two years ago for him to stop his denial. I stopped my denial, too. Dad had abused me and my siblings and I told him so. It took guts to let go of the protection that denial had offered me for years.

Two years ago, my father was dying and I visited him for the first time in 16 years. He owned up and said he was not proud of what he had done. Shame is a powerful inhibitor of truth.

I am proud of him. He stopped drinking the day he was served the lawsuit papers and has stayed sober since 1989. From his hospital bed, he told me the truth –that he had been in denial. We cried together and held each other — father and daughter.

Recently, we were talking about a lawsuit I have against a powerful insurance company for its abusive insurance practices and I said, “Dad, what kind of a daughter did you raise, anyway?” he answered, “I raised a daughter who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and I’m proud of you.” If we each had not broken throughout denial, we would not have a relationship today.

Belmont, Mass.

Rocky Mountain News – Letters

Many people deserve credit for helping pass child accountability act of ’94

Rocky Mount News reported Sue Lindsay has done a wonderfully thorough job describing the difficulties crime victims have in recovering the damages awarded them in civil courts (March 2 article, “Abuse victims found justice in court”). Getting congress to hold perpetrators accountable by attaching their federal pensions t satisfy court-awarded damages is an important step. The Child Abuse Accountability Act of 1994 addresses the wrong done to crime victims who have won their case in court only to lose once again to the perpetrator who refuses to honor the court’s judgment and pay up.

As one of the groups which helped get this bill passed, we think that there are some others who deserve credit and should have been mentioned. The first is former congresswoman Patricia Schroeder who sponsored this bill and was its champion on the floor; The CAA Act of 1994 could never have made it past the original committee without Schroeder’s understanding of the problem and her energetic support. Also, Sally Goldfarb and the NOW Legal Defense Fund in New York played a key role in seeing this bill pass and should be acknowledged for their hard work and intense engagement with the issue.

But, most prominent among those who deserve credit is Sharon Simone, interviewed as a “victim” who has benefited from this law. Sharon gave four years of her life and a substantial part of her savings to the long process which began with the original idea, on to drafting the bill’s language and the final grassroots work which began a groundswell that propelled the bill to victory. Victims recovering monetary damages is important; but Sharon’s metamorphosis from “victim” to a woman testifying in Congressional Hearings and getting federal legislation passed is a story we think y9our readers should know about and cheer.

We are now working together with Sharon Simone, Jennifer Hoult and others o complete the logical extension of this bill to cover the attachment of private pensions to satisfy court-awarded damages. Thank you for the timely article; we hope it will help our members of Congress understand why the laws should be amended.

Sherry A. Quirk, Esq.
President and counsel
One Voice
Washington, D.C.

Rocky Mountain News – Civil Lawsuits

Sharon Simone and her sister were awarded $2.3 million (with interest) by a Denver jury for sexual abuse committed by their father. It took an act of Congress to garnish their father’s federal pension. Abuse victims found justice in court. Dad’s federal pension open to garnishment after new law in 1994.

By Sue Lindsay
Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Sharon Simone and Sue Hammond hugged and celebrated in 1990 when a Denver jury awarded them $2.3 million from their father, who had sexually abused them for years.

But it literally took an act of Congress to get any money from Edward Rodgers, a former FBI agent and child abuse expert. And attorney Joyce Seelen led the campaign to pass legislation that enables federal pensions to be garnisheed to pay judgments for child abuse.
That happened in 1994.

They get $200 a month. After attorneys fees, it amounts to $73 for Simone and $65 for Hammond. The judgment never will be fully paid.
“But it’s great,” Simone said. “It’s really powerful. It’s true that the money doesn’t matter, but it does. That check that comes in every month is dad’s accountability for what he did, and it shows that our government holds him accountable, too.”

Simone used her share to buy a large dining table that seats 16.
“I wanted to do something very special with the money, to have something that I would always remember my father by, something that would bring us together as a family,” she said.

Simone said she and her sisters have found ways to pay for therapy but it hasn’t been easy. “No one can afford hundreds of thousands of dollars of therapy,” she said. “This has cost our family enormously. There are things we should have been able to five our children that went to therapy to heal from the past.

“We don’t own our home, don’t take expensive vacations and don’t have funds for our children’s college educations.”

Simone says her attorney taught her that money is the “currency of justice.” But what was most important to the sisters is that their father acknowledge what he had done.

“If dad would have been willing to look at his budget and say, ‘I can afford about this much a month,’ we would not have had to do any of this, not the lawsuit, not any of this.”

Last year, the sisters began to reconcile with their father, who had become quite ill.

“I have enormous respect for his personal journey since the lawsuit and I’m proud of his willingness to confront his humanity,” Simone said.
Rodgers, declined to be interviewed, but said through his son, Steve Rodgers, that he and his children are continuing to work on reuniting their family.

Elizabeth Medlicott, another daughter who testified about Rodgers’ abuse at the trial, spoke for Hammond and herself, saying, “We are seeking privacy in the ongoing process of reuniting our family.”

After years of estrangement, Simone said her father came to her home for Thanksgiving last year. She told him about the table.

“And he said, ‘Isn’t that wonderful.’”

The Denver Post – Voice of the Rocky Mountain News

Law lets abuse victims seek redress in pensions

By Christopher Lopez
Denver Post Staff Writer

A former Colorado woman who won a landmark $2.3 million judgment against her abusive father is celebrating a new law allowing her and other victims to collect compensation from their abusers’ federal pensions.

An elated Sharon Simone joined U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder yesterday in Denver to announce that President Clinton had signed the Child Abuse Accountability Act, which allows victims to garnishee pensions to collect court-ordered damages.

“This is so gratifying for me,” said Simone, who flew from her Boston home to make the announcement. “This is a success story and it should be broadcast very loudly.”

Simone and her sister, Susan Hammond, were awarded the judgment by a Denver District Court jury on May 16, 1990, in a decision that opened the way for other abused children to sue parents years after the abusive relationship has ended.

After that decision, Simone spent four years working on the federal legislation. She testified before congress, worked on the bill with Schroeder, a Denver Democrat, and now has reason to celebrate.
“My voice has been heard,” she said, “and it feels good.”
Law allows redress in pensions

Simone’s father, Edward Rodgers Jr., is receiving a federal pension as a former FBI agent. At one time, Rodgers also was a nationally known child abuse expert because of his work as an investigator for the El Paso County district attorney’s office in Colorado Springs.

Since the court decision, Simone and her sister have been able to collect only a small amount of the damages awarded to them.

At one point, they thought their father had fled the country to avoid paying. But they were later able to trace him back to Colorado.

Simone said she’ll receive a monthly check for about $300 from her father’s pension because of the new law, which allows victims to receive up to 25 percent of their abusers’ federal pensions.

“The really satisfying part,” Simone said, is that her father won’t be able to escape the judgment. “The federal government intervened and said, ‘He will be held accountable.’”

Simone regularly speaks on child abuse. Earlier this year, CBS aired a movie titled “The Ultimate Betrayal,” which documented the physical and sexual abuse Simone, Hammond and their five siblings allegedly suffered at the hands of their father.

Simone’s three brothers always have defended their father, acknowledging that he was strict but saying he was not abusive to the point the girls were sexually molested.

The television movie helped convince members of Congress that the law was necessary, Simone said. After it aired, hundreds of viewers wrote their representatives to support the bill.

“You always hear that your voice doesn’t count, but in this case, it did,” Simone said.

The Enterprise – Brockton, Massachusetts

For abused, the healing comes from the telling

By Amy Blotcher Guerrero
Enterprise Staff Writer

BROCKTON – Sharon Simone’s father was an FBI agent and a nationally recognized authority on child abuse prevention and intervention. At home, however, he physically abused her three brothers and beat and sexually abused Simone and her three sisters over a period of 30 years. “You never knew what was going to happen,” Simone said. “I don’t ever remember being relaxed in the family.”

In 1990, Simone and one of her sisters sued their father, now 76, over he abuse and won a $2.3 million judgment against him in Denver District Court. Her father never appeared in court, but Simone was able to confront him when he was deposed.

Simone’s story was recently portrayed in the television movie “Ultimate Betrayal.” Marlo Thomas played the part of Simone.

Simone appeared at Christo’s II Thursday night to mark Victim Rights Week, admission to “And Evening with Sharon Simone,” was free and was attended by more that 100 people, most of whom either work with victims of abuse or are themselves recovering from abusive pasts. The audience was made up primarily of women, with about eight men present.

“Millions of people have seen my story,” she said. “I want to talk with the real people who are sharing the journey.”

During her talk, Simone responded to questions from members of the audience. “I am definitely wanting to tell my story,” Simone said at the conclusion of the event. “It helps other people and it helps me.” The message that she wants to bring to others is that “there is hope. It can be dealt with. It takes a long time but people can be healed and it’s worth it.”

Simone said that she has been in intensive psychotherapy to deal with the pain caused by the abuse since 1986. After eight years, “I feel whole. I don’t feel scared and traumatized. I don’t feel like it’s with me every minute anymore,” she said.

In her family, Simone, the eldest daughter, suffered physical and sexual abuse from the age of 2 until she was 5. She then somehow became her father’s “favorite,” and was spared the abuse that continued for her brothers and sisters.

A day after graduating from college, she married. Simone has six children and is a grandmother. In 1986, she began suffering nightmares and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as the deeply hidden memories of abuse slowly began to surface. Once therapy helped her become reacquainted with the past she had blotted out, Simone said she was motivated to undertake her lawsuit after reading about an 8-year-old girl named Susan from Beverly who had been digitally raped by her best friend’s father on two occasions.

The man received a suspended sentence but Simone was enraged when the judge in the case dismissed the gravity of the incidents. “I was volcanic, ranting, raving and screaming,” she said. The perpetrator, “doesn’t get to not know what he’s done to her soul,” she said she kept repeating.

After the trial, she said, many repressed memories surfaced. Winning the trial, was “very validating, very healing.” Yet, she said, bringing an abuser to court, an option not always available is not strictly necessary for healing. What is important is that the victim holds the abuser accountable for his or her actions.

Milestones along Simone’s path toward wholeness were reached when she was able to accept that she was indeed a victim, a label she had always resisted.

“It is an important step to admit that we were victimized,” she said. “We have to own the victim status.” Another big step was realizing the pain that she had caused her children, three of whom became suicidal. “Everyone who has been victimized ends up hurting other people,” she said. “I hurt my kids really badly. I had to wake up and see my denial and control as dangerous.”

Simone said that because there were no real boundaries in her home growing up, she was unable to set appropriate limits for her own children. At one point, she said, she even allowed her 16-year-old daughter to date a 26-year-old man. She said that her whole family has since benefited by her work to overcome her past.

Simone said that victims of abuse who undergo counseling should be aware of their level of pain during psychotherapy. It is most helpful if a person recovering has a sense that they are making progress. “I always did feel that I was moving, that I was getting somewhere, I just knew it,” she said.

Simone urged those present to call their congressmen and ask them to co-sponsor legislation HR 3964, the Child Abuse Accountability Act which was introduced by U.S. Sen. Pat Schroeder, D-Col., on Simone’s behalf. The bill would allow victims to attach the pensions of federal employees convicted of abuse in trials similar to the one Simone fought against her father.

The Boston Globe

Giving the gift of going public
Bella English

FOR YEARS, EDWARD RODGERS of Denver was a national specialist on child abuse. A lawyer, FBI agent and former child abuse investigator for the Denver district attorney’s office, he was instrumental in developing incest and child abuse statues. He went on the lecture circuit. he sat on various panels about child abuse. He wrote articles about abusers for various journals.

As the old saying goes: It takes one to know one. last week, Rodgers was found guilty of sexually and physically abusing two of his daughters, who are now adults.

A Denver judge directed a guilty verdict against Rodgers, suing that he had committed incest and tormented his children ‘with consistent emotional and physical abuse.’ The jury awarded each of the two daughters $1.2 million, nearly six times what their attorneys sought.
Rodgers, meanwhile, failed to show for trial and has disappeared, reportedly to Mexico. The sisters, Sharon Simone of Belmont and Susan Hammond of southern California, may never see any money, but they feel enormous relief.

So should we all. The courage it took for the sisters to subject themselves to a painful public ordeal was a gift to all of us, particularly victims of childhood abuse.

It tells other victims that they can be heard. And it sends a message to abusers: Your deeds can come back to haunt you, even 30 years later. Buy now, pay later.

Rodgers would have gotten away with it had Simone not been moved by the story of a Beverly girl who was sexually abused by a neighbor. The man, Michael Ferguson, pleaded guilty, and the girl’s parents thought that if their daughter saw him being led off in handcuffs at sentencing, it would help her recovery.

Instead, the family watched in horror as Judge John T. Ronan gave Ferguson a suspended sentence after a parade of character witnesses extolled his virtues.

When Simone read about it, she felt the girl’s pain. An memories she had long repressed came rushing back.

‘I couldn’t handle it,’ said Simone, now 45. ‘I thought of that little girl sitting there, having to hear what a good man he was. I was enraged.’
It is still difficult for Simone to talk about her own abuse. The oldest, she was her father’s pet, and she tried her best to please him so she would not be attacked. She also tried to protect her younger siblings, but to no avail.

‘We’d get beaten for not combing our hair right, for not washing our hands,’ she said. ‘I remember a broken eardrum, tons of bloody lips and noses. My mother’s ribs were broken.’

Simone’s husband, an engineer, tearfully testified to his wife’s dysfunction stemming from childhood abuse.

The scars remain, much like post-traumatic stress syndrome. ‘The most profound damage that is slowly being healed is the ability to feel,’ Simone said. ‘If you try to raise six children without physiological and emotional responses, how can you be a mother and wife?’

Simone, a former administrator and faculty member at Lesley College, is not currently able to work or attend courses in her doctoral program at harvard University. At one point, she would drive around in the middle of the night, sleeping in her car.

The lawsuit has deeply divided the family, with the four sisters on one side, their three brothers on the other.

‘My brothers wanted to keep it all in the family,’ Simone said. ‘Our whole lives were spent protecting my father’s public image. I’m not vengeful, but I’m not going to protect him anymore.’

It took guts for Simone and her sisters to come forward. They were raised in a strict Catholic family, ‘to take care of men,’ said Simone, whose parents divorced in 1968.

Shortly before the trial, she went to the Harvard Law School library to look for articles her father had written. In one piece, there is a picture of a boy with marks on his body. The caption reads: ‘Boy given duties to perform by his father, failed to do them and was struck with a piece of

Simone glanced at the picture and noted, sadly: ‘this is exactly what my father did. He broke a 2-by-4 over my brother’s bottom while we all watched.’

Her father wrote, in conclusion: ‘The safety of our children in America should be of concern to all of us, and it is only through community interaction and cooperation that it can be adequately handled.’ It’s essential, too, that the abuser acknowledge his abuses.

The Denver Post – Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire Final Edition

Adults suing parents for abuse.
In Denver and elsewhere, child victims put an end to years of silence

By Beth Frerking
Denver Post Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON – When a Denver jury last week awarded two middle-aged sisters $2.3 million to compensate for years of physical and sexual abuse by their father, the case made front-page news.

The story underscored a changing fact of life: Until recently, relatively few adults have taken legal action against parents who abused them as children.

But such actions now are on the rise nationally, according to women’s legal defense associations, victim-assistance groups and lawyers who represent such victims.

And, as groups work to make it easier to prosecute such crimes, and as long-silent victims watch other victims take their cases to court, the public will see more adults who were abused as children seek legal remedies.

“It’s definitely a new trend,” said Sally Goldfarb, staff attorney for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York.

“It goes hand-in-hand with the fact that, as a society, we are increasingly recognizing the enormous extent and tragic consequences of child sexual abuse.”

In the Denver case, sisters Sharon Simone, 45, and Susan Hammond, 44, sued their father, former Colorado Springs law enforcement officer Edward Rodgers, 72, for abuse that had occurred between 1944 and 1965.

The sisters faced an obstacle that typically hinders adult victims of child sexual abuse; status of limitations. In Colorado, a plaintiff must bring a civil suit within two years of the crime.Long-silent physical-abuse victims now suing parents

ABUSE from Page 1A
“However, the Denver jury removed that barrier by determining that the sisters became aware of their injuries only during the past two years through therapy.

“Most states also have time limits on criminal prosecution of felonies. In some, the period commences from the time the assault occurred. In others, it begins when a child reaches a certain age, usually the age of majority, between 16 and 21.

“In Colorado, the statue of limitations on a criminal charge runs 10 years from when the assault occurred — and that’s generous. The average is closer to seven years amount states that start the clock from the time of the assault.

Groups such as the National Victim Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the NOW Legal Defense fund and the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse in Alexandria, VA., are lobbying to change laws so victims have more time to file criminal or civil actions against their abusers.
“The trend is to extend these statutes, both in criminal and civil law,” said Patricia Toth, director of the child-abuse prosecution center in Alexandria.

Specialists in the field of child abuse say victims need extra time to file charges or lawsuits because it takes years, even decades, to exhume childhood and adolescent memories of physical and sexual abuse. Victims say they had to repress those incidents in order to survive.
Jay Howell, a Jacksonville, Fla., attorney who specializes in child sexual-abuse cases, said victims are typically between ages 20 and 40 before they decide “that they want to seek some justice.”

Some states have slowly modified statues of limitation to reflect the inherent differences between child sexual abuse and other types of assault.

But even after victims face their pasts through therapy and counseling, many do not realize they might have ways to seek legal redress. So publicity about child sexual-abuse cases plays a critical role in encouraging other victims to at least investigate whether legal action might be possible, specialists say.

In recent Maryland case, Michael Smith, 29, and his sister, Lisa Smith Clark, 28, had privately discussed their abuse as children at the hands of their parents, Ralph Leon and Betty Smith.

They thought they were the only two of the eight Smith children who were abused. Clark was forced to have intercourse with her father beginning at age 12, and Michael Smith testified that he had sexual relations with his mother from the time he was 10.

Eventually, another sister confessed that she had been abused. Meanwhile, Michael Smith read news reports of another Maryland case, in which three adults successfully prosecuted their father for child sexual and physical abuse. “Until my brother, Michael, saw it in the newspaper, none of us knew it was illegal or that you could press charges years later,” said Clark, a registered nurse who now lives in Florida.

With that news, Lisa and Michael unraveled the stories of their other siblings. and six of the eight Smith children decided to file criminal charges, with Lisa and Michael as plaintiffs.

The Smith children were lucky. Maryland is one of the only four states that has no statue of limitations on felonies. They were represented by maryland Assistant Stat’s Attorney Cynthia Ferris, a veteran of child-abuse prosecutions.

Clark said she and her siblings were relieved and happy when their parents were brought to justice. but she said they have since received an unexpected bonus: letters and calls from other child sexual-abuse victims who now have the courage to seek legal remedies in their own cases.

“That’s the ultimate victory,” Clark said. “it just makes it all worthwhile going through al this pain and breaking open the secret.”

The Denver Post

EDWARD RODGERS, the ex-FBI agent who lost a $2.3 million judgment in Denver district court this week, must have been astonished when two of his grown-up daughters sued him for molesting them as children.
But as an expert on such crimes, he could a damaging claim coming — not that an abusive father is thinking clearly. The victims of domestic violence, both children and spouses, have increasingly been turning the tables in this way– and for good reason. A lawsuit not only can force the perpetrator to pay for the emotional and physical harm he has wrought, but can serve to enhance the victim’s recovery as well.

A civil court verdict against the parent – even if many years have passed since the injuries were actually inflicted — reinforces the idea that the child was not at fault and helps bring the traumatic emotions to closure. Or as one of the now middle-aged plaintiffs in the Rodgers case put it, “The shame isn’t mine. The horror happened to me.”

Going public with charges of sexual abuse also can underscore the fact that incest is not confined to the outcasts of society. The testimony against Rodgers, who is now 72 and appears to have fled the country rather than face his comeuppance, showed that this outrageous crime can take place for years — decades, even — in what may appear to be a nice, middle-class, law-abiding family.

The seven Rodgers children have obviously been split by this trauma, with the three sons defending their father against the accusations leveled by their four sisters. but neither the prospect of a public confrontation, nor the possibility that no money may ever be collected, should keep other victims in similar circumstances from coming forward.
It takes time, maturity and often a great deal of therapy to come to terms with the devastating impact of a childhood ravaged by abuse. But the courts stand ready to help lessen the lifelong effects, and greater use of the legal system for this purpose may eventually help deter attacks on kids who are now growing up in violence-ridden families.

The Boston Globe

Daughters win sex-abuse case against father
By Alison Bass

In a precedent-setting case, a Belmont woman this week won a multimillion-dollar jury award against her father for sexual and physical abuse. In an interview yesterday, she said she filed the suit because she wanted to let a “little girl” from beverly know that not everyone gets away with child abuse.

An all female jury in Denver Wednesday awarded Sharon Simone, 45, and her sister $1.2 million each after a trial in which the two testified that their father, a former FBI agent and adviser to law-enforcement agencies on child abuse, had sexually abused and beaten them while they were growing up.

Simone said she filed the suit after reading about an 8-year-old girl from Beverly who had been taken to court to watch her abuser’s sentencing – only to watch him go free.

‘I had not filed a lawsuit against my father at that time, but after I read that article, I felt such an outrage and such a connection to that girl,’ Simone said. ‘I decided then that I was going to show this little girl that not everyone who abuses children gets away with it.’

Simone was referring to an article by Globe columnist Bella English regarding the case of Michael R. Ferguson, a 41-year-old former shop teacher who had pleaded guilty to raping his neighbor’s daughter. His young victim went to Superior Court with her parents on the day.

Ferguson was to be sentenced because they had been told that the sight of her attacker being led off to prison would help her on the long road to recovery from the experience.

Instead, Judge John T. Ronan gave Ferguson a suspended sentence. Ronan said that in deciding against incarceration, he had given considerable weight to a half-dozen character witnesses, including the pastor of Ferguson’s church, who had spoken on his behalf.

‘I decided that I was going to hold my father accountable for [this girl], for my sister, for my brothers and for myself,’ Simone said. ‘I want to tell that little girl, whoever she is, that not everyone who abuses a child will walk away without knowing what they have done to your soul.’

Several lawyers said the colorado case is precedent-setting both because of the size of the award and the type of case. Similar cases have been filed in Massachusetts, but none has yet gone to trial.

‘I think this verdict will pave the way for other suits,’ said Kathleen Franco Domenico, one of the Denver attorneys who represented Simone and her sister, Susan Hammond, 44, who lives in southern California. ‘There has been a reluctance to bring these suits because the nature and extent of the injuries aren’t recognized for a long time and, in many
‘I want to tell that little girl, whoever she is, that not everyone who abuses a child will walk away without knowing what they have
done to your soul.’ SHARON SIMONE

States, statutes of limitations apply.’
In the Denver case, Domenico said, the judge ruled that the statute of limitations did not apply in cases of child sexual or physical abuse. In 1988, Judge Herbert Abrams of the Massachusetts Superior Court reached a similar ruling in an incest case, but that case was settled out of court last year.

In their 1989 lawsuit, Simone and her sister testified that their father, Edward J. Rodgers, had repeatedly beaten and sexually abused them between 1944 and 1965. At the trial, Rodgers admitted that he had hit his wife and may have hit his children, but said he did not remember doing so.

Rodgers, now 72, had been employed for years as a chief investigator of the el Paso County district attorney’s office in Colorado, and as an adviser in child abuse cases. he previously had worked for the FBI for 27 years.

Rodgers’ attorney, Thomas Gresham, said he had been unable to locate his client since april 24, Domenico said the last she had heard Rodgers was reported to be near the Texas-Mexico border. Simone and Hammond say they doubt they will ever collect the money awarded to them.

Child protection specialists say that women who were abused as children are increasingly turning to the courts for redress, in part because criminal charges are very rarely brought against abusive parents or family friends. and when they are, judges and others are often reluctant to believe that outwardly repectable middle-class men would cause serious harm to children.

‘These victims have a lot of shame, guilt and humiliation about what happened,’ said Linda Jorgenson, a Cambridge lawyer and member of the state legislative commission on sexual misconduct. Just as with women who are sexually abused by their psychotherapists, there is a violation of trust and a feeling of being betrayed due to the inaction of others. If your father abuses you and your mother covers it up,you begin to wonder if you’re right or not; you begin to doubt yourself.’