A double standard of the ugliest kind
It seems to only get uglier . . . as if there are stages of ugly.
As hard as it is to understand how adults can abuse little children
sexually, it's even more incomprehensible when the perpetrators are
close family members like uncles and daddies-- as I pointed out in
columns a couple weeks ago.
When the monsters turn out to be mommies, however, it's almost too
ugly to see.
That's why, after his wife's arrest in May, the man I shall call
Michael for this story is still struggling with the idea that the
mother of his 6year-old son could have done the things of which she is
"There were some warning signs," says this soft-spoken professional
man, who lives and works in the Tri-Cities, "but I just couldn't get
my mind around the fact" that a mother could molest her child
Few of us can.
Perhaps it's a double standard of the ugliest kind. Moms are warm.
Nurturing. Loving. Tender. Attentive.
Sometimes, though, those stereotype can disguise what really is going
Michael says, when his oldest daughter came to him a year ago with
concerns about her stepmother's inappropriate behavior toward her
younger half-brother, he shrugged them off. He was a busy man. Work
consumed him. Besides, what his daughter was suggesting was sick.
It was hard to picture. It was impossible.
If you ask those who often have to deal in ugliness, however, they'll
tell you it is indeed possible.
"It's certainly more rare when a mother is the accused," a school
social worker told me, "but we see cases of it."
Lake County folks saw it in frontpage headlines last month when Louise
Kraft was sentenced to 26 years in prison for two counts of criminal
sexual abuse against her children.
The family had lived in a Round Lake Beach home infested with vermin
and insects and surrounded by garbage. She was arrested after the
children were placed in foster care and had described the sexual abuse
they had suffered from their parents.
The father, David Kraft, will be sentenced later this month and is
serving a 15-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting an 11-year
"I think this case is almost beyond description," the prosecutor had
told the judge at the time of sentencing. "You need a chart to know
what's going on between mom and dad and the children, the half-brother
and the half-sister."
In a signed statement, Louise Kraft said she saw her husband take the
children into the bedroom and lock the door, and that she found him
and the children exposed on occasions.
It can't seem to get much uglier than that, can it?
What makes the Tri-Cities case so hard to stomach, however, is that
the accusation does not center around a family living in a
vermin-infested home with garbage serving as its landscape.
Michael and his wife both wear white collars and speak intelligently
and live in suburban dreamland.
Oh, those stereotypes.
Even after the arrest, Michael was confused about what was happening
to his family.
When his wife called from the jail, crying that she could never do the
things they accuse her of doing, he "didn't know who was lying, who
was telling the truth."
Only after reading the reports, compiled from experts who had spoken
to the children, he says, did he begin to sort out in his own mind
fact from fiction.
Unlike the Aurora mother I wrote about several weeks ago, who is
standing staunchly behind her husband as he faces six felony counts of
aggravated sexual abuse against their daughter, Michael plans to
divorce his wife when the case comes to a conclusion then do whatever
is needed to get his fractured family back into healing mode.
"I am trying to understand it as a sickness," he says, "but there's
still a lot of things I don't know."
Michael is cautious about saying too much publicly in regard to this
bombshell that so recently has rocked his world for fear of
jeopardizing the case. If it goes to trial, he knows, it only will get
And yes, there are different stages of ugly.
His son may have to testify against the mother he loves, and Michael
is concerned that the jury might have a hard time believing the woman
before them could be guilty of ugly charges.
She is, after all, a mommy.
For now, his child has daily supervised visits with the mother. He
loves her. He misses her. He really doesn't understand what is going
Michael says he's only now beginning to comprehend the reality. He was
blindsided by the arrest, embarrassed by it.
Now, he mostly is sad. Sad because even the ugliest of the ugly can
penetrate pretty walls.
"There are things I should have seen," he says softly.
Perhaps it is time we all opened our eyes just a little bit wider.
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This Page was created on 12th January, 2001