(Includes update at the end, filed at 1:05 p.m., CST, on 3/5/12)
This is a presidential election year, so the biggest story of 2012 is likely to play out in early November. But the most important story of the year might be playing out right now--and it involves the ongoing revelations about the sexual abuse of boys, allegedly by men who were in positions of trust.
The issue first hit the national radar last November, when criminal charges were brought against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. That quickly was followed by allegations against former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
Perhaps the most disturbing story yet came last week out of Troy, Ohio--and it had nothing to do with coaches or sports. It involves a "family unit" that apparently was horrifyingly dysfunctional. An adoptive father has been charged with raping his three sons and using one of them as a prostitute for two other men.
The three men are in jail on rape charges, and the father's name originally was withheld to protect the children's identity. The father, however, now has been identified as Kenneth H. Brandt.
The Dayton Daily News reports that bond has been set at $1 million for one of the three men. The newspaper also reports that the FBI intends to pursue federal child sexual-exploitation charges against the men:
Brandt is charged with raping his three adopted sons, ages 9, 10 and 12, and prostituting one of the sons to adult males. He also has a 9-year-old adopted daughter.
All four children were from Texas and one adoption was not yet finalized.
In addition to criminal charges, authorities are also examining Brandt’s history as a foster parent.
“It has also been brought to our attention from past experiences with Kenneth that he has been bringing children from Texas to Troy as supposed foster children,” Troy Detective Chris Tilley wrote in the search warrant affidavit. Brandt was arrested Friday.
How stomach-churning is this story? Consider this report from The Troy Daily News:
A 10-year-old boy shook when asked about being prostituted to two other men by an adoptive father who regularly had sex with him, according to police, who said the boy was fearful of talking because he didn't want to be taken from his home or separated from his new siblings.
The adoptive father, Kenneth Brandt, 39, of Troy, has been charged with raping three boys in his care and compelling prostitution by hiring the 10-year-old out for sex. He and two other men remained in jail Thursday on rape charges.
Federal and local law enforcement officials said they're widening the investigation into child sexual exploitation allegations against the father, who worked out of his home as an insurance claims adjuster.
Troy police said they impounded the father's truck and seized four laptops from the home and a video camera and two wooden paddles from the master bedroom.
How did law-enforcement officials break the case?
An undercover detective in Franklin County, part of a state task force, talked online with the adoptive father, who said he would arrange sex with a 10-year-old boy, Troy police said. He had been led to the adoptive father by another man who had posted a Craigslist ad wanting "taboo" sex, police said.
The adoptive father was going to meet the undercover detective at a McDonald's in a nearby city, but police moved in two days before the scheduled meeting, according to records. They confronted the man with text messages and online communications about arranging sex with the boy, police said in a case report filed in court.
News reports about the sexual abuse of boys have tended to focus on coaches and scout leaders. Sports Illustrated produced an expose in 1999 about child molesters in youth sports. But the Troy, Ohio, story goes right into the home, the place where children are supposed to be most safe.
|Kenneth H. Brandt|
We already have seen signs of elites connected to one of America's ugliest subjects. Stories broke in the late 1980s about the Franklin Scandal, which had connections to the Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses. That story had ties to powerful corporate and political figures in the conservative realm, and it eventually faded from view. But the scandal at Penn State also might "out" some significant elites. According to one report, Sandusky helped line up boys for sexual activity with wealthy university donors.
What on earth drives some men, many of whom are married and self identify as heterosexual, to seek illicit adventures with boys? We don't have an answer to that question, but we don't look for this story to go away anytime soon.
Update at 1:05 p.m. on 3/5/12
I had barely pushed the publish button on this post when I discovered that a new story is breaking about the sexual abuse of boys. This is another one from the world of sports, with at least eight men claiming they were sexually abused by a former clubhouse manager for the Boston Red Sox baseball team. The men claim they were molested while serving as bat boys for both the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.
Donald J. Fitzpatrick, the clubhouse manager, now is deceased, and the alleged abuse apparently took place in the 1980s and 1990s.