December 21, 2008

"He's all I got."

  The woman and two of her daughters, 14 and 18, sit at a table opposite a detective. The mom and the youngest girl do not make eye contact. But the 18-year-old is angry — her flashing brown eyes look directly at the detective.

  "My father's been raping us girls for as long as I can remember," she says. "Mom begged me not to say nothin' but now he's after Cindy — and she's only eight years old. I've kept my mouth shut long enough. It's time they put that sorry so-and-so where he belongs, under the jailhouse."

  The mother and 14-year-old continue to stare at the floor. They are frightened. After so many years of abuse, their self-respect is gone.

  "Where's your husband now?" the detective asks.

  "He's at work," the woman says, "He hangs Sheet Rock but he's usually home before six."  "Excuse me for a minute," the detective says. He leaves the room to tell the sergeant to start drawing up warrants on the father.

  From interviews with the younger girl at the house, plus statements from two older girls at headquarters, there's probable cause for 19 counts of criminal sexual conduct — the legal name for rape. If there's any way to know the whole truth — and there seldom is — this despicable example of a father is very likely guilty of raping his daughters over 100 times.

  The mother is an object to be pitied. You might wonder why she let this situation go on for so long — perhaps for 10 years. The mother refuses to admit she knows what's been going on all these years.

  Comments from the young girls force the obvious question: "Why didn't you just take your girls and leave?"

  The woman's painful answer sheds a tiny bit of light on the terrible dilemma she and thousands of women share: "I know he ain't much, but he's all I got."

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