Children rarely lie about being sexually violated. When the allegations are detailed, responsible adults better pay attention and get the professionals involved.
The Belleville Diocese more than 20 years ago started learning the costs of inaction, denial and cover up.
Now Freeburg Elementary District 70 is learning the same expensive lessons.
Besides the $5.6 million so far for four lawsuits, the adults who knew and failed to protect the district’s children from former Superintendent Robyn Hawkins cost the district credibility and at least five young people their peace of mind. Hawkins was molesting students from 1980 until 2009, when the last allegation led him to the ultimate mea culpa, killing himself by sitting in his barn and letting the engine run in his 1964 Mustang convertible.
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Nearly 30 years went by and Hawkins only molested five students? Nearly 30 years went by and no one stopped him until he stopped himself.
Current taxpayers will pay for past sins of commission and omission for years to come through higher insurance premiums and potentially higher property taxes. There may be a need to change how Freeburg students are educated.
But again, the costly lesson here is this: Youngsters rarely lie about that, and you likely don’t have the qualifications to determine when they do.