I am supposed to be working on an article about concert safety with children…. but today we are going to interrupt my scheduled broadcast with a rant. No, that’s not entirely accurate, it’s a frustration plea that makes me mentally beat my chest in anguish and tear my hair in absolute helplessness. A news article came out this morning on the sentencing of Dr. Mark Oesterle from Fayetteville, AR which is about 30 miles from my home. Oesterle was a teacher and an assistant principal who was charged with three counts of sexually assaulting a minor in 2015. It is unclear if it was multiple children because to be honest the journalism isn’t really all that forthcoming with information, but what is clear is that one of the children he touched was fourteen-year-old girl.
My Lili is fourteen. She is smiley and snarky and funny and witty and innocent. I am open with her about the world. She knows I will answer any questions openly and honestly, and though I am not a sugar coater; she still has a very rainbow outlook on life. I truly don’t want to take that away; just being an adult will do that enough. Is she learning how to navigate the world? absolutely, but she is 14, hell her brain will not fully develop for another 11 years.
This man is 49. He has a doctorate giving him a title. He was in an authoritative position with a job to protect and educate children. He is gross. He was originally given one year in jail, but now will spend six years free on probation. I mean, he must register as a sex offender; oh, and he also cannot contact the victims because for some reason that is not a given when you touch little girls.
I just can’t. I speak often of a teacher I had in eighth grade who would touch and massage our shoulders while taking a test or working on homework. I would have been that age. It was uncomfortable. Even though it felt dirty I didn’t say anything and honestly didn’t even know speaking up was an option. His touch was just something that skeeved us out and we laugh/joked after class about how much we hated it in a minor effort to cope. You cannot tell me that teacher couldn’t read the cringey body language of a 13-year-old that shrugged her shoulders tight and pulled in on herself. It was predatory. No man, unrelated to a young girl or boy, and even that is debatable, should be consistently touching students in intimate ways like a massage.
So here is what is worse. The system failed these girls. As I said the journalism is not super informative about what happened, but what is known is that he touched her breast. A 49-year-old pervert touched the likely not fully developed breast of a 14-year-old girl. He obviously doesn't feel bad about it because he accepted the plea bargain for his crimes and gets six years’ probation.
I was not that brave, I never told anyone, none of us did. Now as parents I like to think we are doing better on educating our children on body autonomy, enough for these young girls to speak up against someone with the title of Dr. in their name who held a higher position of authority in their life than just mere teacher. They were courageous, they called him out, they didn’t just pray that would be the end of it and avoid him. They spoke out and the system said screw you.
I know enough about court and saw enough in foster care that if they are saying “touched her breast,” it was likely more. (Look up Mercutio Torres. Actually don’t. It will just ruin your day knowing that it was soooooo much more heinous than what horrors were printed). And here is the deal, even if it was just the one charge of touching her breast, he still deserves more than six years’ probation. He chose to put his grubby hands on a little girl. HE CHOSE. He is a grown a** man who made the conscious decision while in a high position of authority over these girls to at the very least use coercion and be in their space. That’s called grooming.
We are supposed to be making it better for our girls and it is articles like this that make me feel I am beating my bloody head against a concrete wall because how can I make a difference when this is a possible outcome. The system basically spit in these girls faces saying, “Good job, you spoke up, meh. I mean his character and reputation are ruined, what more could you possibly want? He can’t speak to you legally, so let’s tie this all up in a neat little package for you to spend the rest of your life to dwell and roll around in your head second guessing yourself.” Reputation and not speaking to the victims are consequences of action, not punishment. Let’s call it what it is. His only “punishment” for groping a 14-year-old is probation.
Also, he can’t speak to his victims legally. Yeah, that’s totally going to be a deterrent to a man who obviously doesn’t feel any remorse for his crimes in the first place since he entered a plea bargain for a lesser sentence. He is going to be mad HIS life is ruined when he gets done with that piddly-assed “sentence,” not that he ruined theirs. That alone should cause concern for safety on a bigger scale. Side note: if you are the parent of one of the victims, please reach out to me, it would be an honor to work with your daughters on self-defense.
Last night I stood in front of eight girls ranging in ages 13 to 19 and spoke to them about protecting themselves. It was the start of our seven-hour course, and they were amazing. They were eager to try and learn, a little shy, and probably intimidated a bit by the material. Next week we go over consent and grooming and here we are. I can show them and tell them how to be brave, be better than I was at 13 and make a difference. However, according to this news article, if they pull on their inner strength and make a stand against sexual assault, he will be roaming free in six years; but don’t worry, he can’t contact you legally. The message being sent is, “Why bother saying anything in the first place and take the chance of making him madder to retaliate worse later in life?” It is so damn tragic. That sentence is showing a reflection of the crime and it will make these girls question in the future the validity of their claims. Its sick. You get more time in the slammer for marijuana.
Here is his picture, because he will be done in a little over half a decade, roaming free and probably not feeling one iota of guilt over his perversion. memorize it if you have daughters, I know I will.
So, these victims, mid-puberty, maybe three years out of playing pretend with dolls, old enough to want to be thought of as a little mature, but still confused over body changes, were brave enough, had the family support enough, to just speak and he was given six years’ probation. Awesome. By the time he is finished, they will be mid college living a whole other stressful time in their lives, learning even more about themselves/their sexuality, and then they get the added stress about this creep roaming free who is now lumped in with people who got caught publicly urinating. Because #thisisourjusticesystem. Also, lawyer of his, I pray you don’t have daughters and if you do have them reach out to me so at least someone can teach them about body autonomy and grooming.
#heartbroken #justice #speakupgirls #frustratedbeyondbelief #wecandobetter #pissedmama
Author- Christun Erwin
"Thank you for your words. They make an impact and its important that, human to human, woman to woman, mother to mother... you know that you make a difference, even to those you never knew your words" -Krystal