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Tyler Curry

Op-ed: With Sexual Abuse, It's Important To Find Truth Amid the Noise

Op-ed: With Sexual Abuse, It's Important To Find Truth Amid the Noise


Seeking more information is not the same as disbelieving a victim of sexual abuse.

I could think of a million things I would rather do than write this story; things like doing my laundry, scrubbing the toilet or even filing my taxes... early. But like my mother always said, the sooner you begin, the sooner it will end.

As much as I have proclaimed that the sexual abuse that I was subjected to no longer affects me, there is still that tiny island inside of me where that little boy resides. He is still hurt, he is still confused and he trusts no one. I rarely visit him, but when I do, I am reminded that he can never leave.

With that said, now we can begin: I find it practically impossible to discuss sexual abuse in the media. The court of public opinion combined with the sound bite culture of our news media has a way of incredibly oversimplifying any critical matter, especially one that deals with issues of rape, molestation and sexual abuse. There seems to be only two categories that people exist within: the innocent victim and the calculated villain. And within the hour of any given infotainment news program, the viewing jury is expected to deliver a verdict.

In the case of Bill Cosby and the multiple allegations of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault against him, there may never be a day in court that will deliver justice for any who have so far stood up as victims. Instead, we are left to decipher what we can based on the information fed to us by the media. For the record, I do tend to ascribe to the notion of smoke equaling fire, but that still doesn't mean that you should believe everything you're told at face value. Justice is a process, a meticulous method of discovery, and I believe there is much more information to uncover before we achieve any real justice in the case against Cosby.

Recently, I stated my discomfort with how the allegations against Cosby were being handled by the media. Although I may personally believe there is truth to the crimes he is accused of, I still would never assert with absolute certainty that he is guilty of everything that people like Nancy Grace and Gloria Allred say he is. I believe in due process, no matter how heinous the crime or weighted the evidence is against the defendant. Nonetheless, after I expressed my views, I discovered questioning the facts in a sexual assault case can cause some to immediately accuse you of being part of the reason why so many rapists and molesters "get away with it" or why most victims of sexual assault never come forward in the first place.

This is where my own story comes in. As someone who did tell their story before the statute of limitations ran out, I understand the fear of someone questioning my motives and credibility. But I also understand how the public's need to sensationalize a story can lead people to do crazy things. Things like having another person who wasn't abused try to attach themselves to a story, maybe to put the pressure on the perpetrator to be punished, or maybe because of a need to feel a part of the excitement.

I was 8 years old when it started. He was the father of my best friend who lived just down the street in our suburban neighborhood in Texas. I would go to her house to see if she could play with me. If she wasn't home, he would invite me in to wait for her until she returned. We would sit in the study where the TV was. The rest is the kind of stuff that the Catholic Church's nightmares are made of.

This happened for over a period of six months. When it finally stopped, he told me that I could never tell anyone because I would get in a lot of trouble. He said that no one would believe me and that I would be punished. I just sat there, stonefaced, trying to focus on the Nintendo game I was playing, pretending not to know what he was talking about.

But I did tell. Funny enough, it was thanks to one of those TV movies that was about a Catholic priest who molested an altar boy. I looked at my mom and whispered to her that my best friend's father had done to me what that man on TV was doing to that boy.

When I was at the police station giving my official statement, I couldn't bring myself to give the graphic details of what he had done to me. And as outspoken as I am about most subjects, it's still difficult to talk about. But after what felt like hours of squirming in front of the police chief, I managed to share enough detail, a trial was held, and he received two years of probation without any jail time. Yes, just two fucking years of probation.

As you can imagine, word spread fast about the boy who was molested in the neighborhood. All of the sudden, dramatized accounts of what happened in that study traveled down the phone tree. Other kids, both older and younger, began to share their own horror accounts with the man who molested me.

This is the part that matters. He very well may have molested others, but I knew for a fact that more than half of the stories of abuse that were buzzing around our block were false. You see, most of these stories didn't match his meticulously calculated behavior that he so cautiously lured me in with. And I am not sure what was more humiliating -- having my story shared like it was housewife gossip, or having people doubt my account because of the less believable stories that other neighborhood children were telling.

My story is almost textbook child abuse, so much so that it was with the help of a TV movie that I could speak out and move beyond my experience. Of course I still wish the man who assaulted me had received a harsher punishment. But save for the one or two times a year when something makes me think of the time back on Meadow Creek Street, I am not defined, marred, or even all that bothered by it all.

Which brings us back to today and to the myriad allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. There is most likely truth within all the noise about Cosby, but I caution others to remember these "stories" are connected to human lives. God forbid anyone involved is lying, because if they are, it would undoubtedly hurt those who have been raped or abused and stepped forward as truthfully as possible.

Few atrocities are worse than rape, sexual abuse, or molestation in this world. So it is with due diligence, patience, and tenacity that we must pursue the truth, even in cases like Cosby's where the statute of limitations is up. This is not because we do not believe people who cry rape, but because any crime of a sexual nature deserves the highest level of discovery. These victims deserve vindication and a chance to move on.

TYLER CURRY is the senior editor of HIV Equal, a comprehensive online publication dedicated to promoting HIV awareness and combating HIV stigma. To learn more about HIV Equal, visit or follow Tyler Curry on Facebook or Twitter @iamtylercurry.

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