A double standard of the ugliest kind
It seems to only get uglier . . . as if there are stages of ugly.

Denise.Crosby copleynewspapers.com

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 accused.

"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 sexually.

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 on.

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 old girl.

"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 more ugly.

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 on.

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