Suspended Senator Norm McAllister is once again scheduled to answer charges of sexual assault and trafficking beginning on August 10 in the Franklin County Courthouse.
There is much fault that could be found with the way in which Mr. McAllister’s first trial was prosecuted, including the fact that the victim was forced to testify for many hours before the curious eyes of the press, while Mr. McAllister was allowed to sit the whole thing out without saying a word or even glancing at the assembly. It must be hoped that justice will be better served in the upcoming trial.
Norm Mcallister’s son Heath McAllister has, in the meantime, given us ample fodder for discussion with his comments to the media this week.
Defending his father, Heath is quoted as saying
“You’d have to believe he went from a loving husband of 43 years to some kind of animal…”
I agree that it is unlikely that Norm McAllister woke up one day at the age of 60+ and became a serial abuser. When an old man is discovered to be engaging in such behavior, it is almost certain that the pattern of abuse began many years earlier, and that there are other victims who simply have never come forward.
Heath McAllister went on to say that people are making too much of the extreme youth of the alleged victim.
“That’s not a big deal. You want to be disgusted that she was 19 and he was 63, knock yourself for a loop,”
Even if we accept his version of the story, in which she was 19 (not fifteen or sixteen, as she alleges) when the sexual contact began; according to her testimony, she weighed only 85 pounds, which is why he could easily pick her up and sling her over his shoulder like a bag of grain. The idea that she could “consent” to the relationship is outrageous. Now, at twenty-one, she is still a wee slip of a pretty girl, unlikely to consent to being violated by a portly, balding old man.
Apparently Mr. Heath McAllister sees nothing wrong with this picture.
That speaks volumes about the culture in the family, perhaps even in the McAllisters’ circle of friends.
The coup-de-grace, though, is this final admission:
“Did my dad talk like a pig? Sure. I don’t know how many men — what the hell, I’m in the list,” he said. “There’s been moments where if you took what I said out of context, it would sound horrible.”
The culture of misogyny and exploitation hangs heavy in those words. He thinks this is perfectly normal and acceptable.
Locking the perpetrator of such crimes away from vulnerable populations is only part of the remedy for sexual abuse; and, statistically, our society has a poor record of accomplishing even that much.
The real need is to address the underlying culture that enables such behaviors, interrupting the pattern before it takes hold among a broader community of family and friends. The simple reality is that women and girls raised in a culture of exploitation and abuse seldom seek or receive help. Captive to the culture of their tormenters, they simply accept that this is what they must survive.
The women who have spoken out about their experiences with Mr. McAllister deserve our respect and the same indulgence we allow to wartime victims of PTSD.
It is the very least that we can do.