Today I received a jury summons in the mail. My mind immediately jumped to all of the media coverage of the jury selection process in the case of Jerry Sandusky. Fortunately, I don’t live near where Jerry Sandusky is being tried for sexual assault, however I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like to serve on that jury.
I’ll be honest with you, I know I couldn’t be impartial. I would want to be, because I know it is the just and legal thing, but as a mother of two little boys I am pretty sure I’d hurdle over the partition and try to physically injure him. It’s not logical, but it’s in my gut to exact some sort of animalistic revenge after reading all of the press coverage when the scandal first broke.
In the search for potential jurors, lawyers have dismissed individuals for knowing too much about the case and for having already made up their minds, or for having close ties to the university.
But something caught in my throat when I read this passage in The Washington Post last night:
When one juror mentioned her 6-year-old son, defense attorney Joseph Amendola asked her whether having a “small boy” would influence how she evaluated evidence and formed a decision. The woman responded that while she is always concerned about her child’s safety, “I know with my son, there are a lot of sides to a story.”
“So I guess what you’re saying is that you recognize kids don’t always tell the truth?” Amendola asked.
“Absolutely,” she said.
So many elements of this quote bother me. First, one story many sexual abuse survivors, especially male survivors, have in common is that of trying to tell someone what happened to them and not being believed. I can’t help but think of this juror’s 6 year-old child and hoping that his innocence remains intact throughout his childhood, because I fear that woman like this—and I admit I do not know this juror, I am basing this entirely upon one snippet of a conversation—may not believe her son were anything (God forbid) to happen to him.
Now, I know that there are instances where children have lied or made up stories against grown-ups, usually at the urging of another adult who is using this child as a pawn, but even in those cases the children are victims of one sort or another and need help.
And that reminds me of why it is absolutely necessary to have jurors who are capable of being impartial in cases of child sexual abuse… and maybe I could were it a case I knew nothing about going into it.
But I know that I could not serve on the jury in the Sandusky trial, were I asked to.
How about you? Could you be impartial? Do you think it is possible to find an impartial jury in this case?
In a related story, the courts decided that the victims of Sandusky’s alleged abuse would not be allowed to remain anonymous during the trial, as reported by abcnews.com.
Although we have the right to face our accusers, should these adult survivors of childhood abuse be protected from the general population knowing their names?