The recanting witness is a hero in the Michael terpening case
In cases of child sexual abuse, there are few heroes and far too many victims. Some put the number of children sexually abused in our society as high as one in five boys and one in four girls by the age of 18. Count people in the street by fours and fives to get a sense of the scope of the problem. In child welfare some put the number at as high as 80% of the kids having experienced sexual abuse by age 18.
Consider a recent zip code search of the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry. 88 registered sex offenders were returned in the Hastings zip code. In rural Barry County, as a whole, there are 209 registered sex offenders. Kent County has 1,826 men and women required to register.
Still, the number of registered sex offenders measured against the number of victims conveys another message. There are many more sex offenders in our society we never know about, they remain hidden from view.
The Terpening Followers like to correct this story because we confused Rodney with another hero. Yet, still Rodney stood up. He told the story no one dared speak. Whether he was the first, the second, or any other; it makes no difference. Truth matters, and if the allegations against Michael Terpening are true, Rodney is still a hero...His recant does not matter.
Twenty eight foster homes...an independent living program, "where I was staying in a fucking crack house sleeping on the floor keeping my clothes in a box" was said in Rodney's recant video. We see Rodney then pause to reflect, his mouth lengthens and opens slightly. His gaunt face looks down.
In that moment, every single adult in this state must see we failed Rodney. We were not vigilant. We did not see it was not working for Rodney, a precious human life that will exist only once in all the history of humanity that deserved our best in awful circumstances.
...and yet if Michael Terpening did these awful crimes, Rodney did not fail us.
Today, Earth Services cannot hurt one more child with staff members who do not care enough to report their boss. Earth Services' license was revoked because staff failed to report child abuse and Michael Terpening was found lacking in character. Today, Terpening stands accused of abusing five boys. Recently, two additional reports of abuse going back as far as 2000 came to light.
A hero spoke up.
No human being is perfect. Rodney is in the toughest of predicaments as different sides pull at him. Who could begrudge him if evil is biting at his ankles and he gives in? Society owes Rodney understanding if he takes advantage of promises from the darkness; the people of the State of Michigan did not do their job when he needed us and deserved our very best; and when we knew he could not do it alone.
We must bring justice, with or without Rodney's help. This is how we begin to, finally, do one thing right for Rodney.
Rodney, if these allegations prove to be true, only God knows how many vulnerable young men you've saved from being used to satisfy this alleged predator. However, as a citizen of the greatest nation to have ever existed in the history of humanity; I know we failed you. I know there is no excuse. I know there is no apology to make it right. I know it may never be, "all right" for you. I know our effort to promote justice in this case can never meet the deep debt you are owed by every last adult citizen of this state.
After Fred Meijer passed away, he was quoted as saying if he left the world a little better than he found, it he will have done his job. Rodney, you've changed lives for the eternal good. You've changed generations and because of you young people will not carry the infection of a predator to their children, and their grand children; or to any other child who may have been vulnerable to this alleged animal who preys on boys. It is true some will hurt, too, and we grieve for them.
Yet, from hurt springs hope, just as it did in you when you spoke up.
Rodney, you are a hero.
You've changed the world and so shines a good deed...