William Dean Singleton, Chairman of the Board
Donald F. Hunt, Publisher • F. Gilman Spencer, Editor
Chuck Green, Editorial Page Editor • Gay Good, Managing
William H. Hornby, Senior Editor
‘There is no hope for the satisfied man.’ -
F.G. Bonfils, Publisher, 1895-1933
THE DENVER POST
Friday May 18, 1990
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
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.