Letters to the Editor

From the week of May 27, 2004

Leader of the Pack

Soar losers: Regarding "The War Within," Julie Jargon's first story on the Air Force Academy:

I was watching 7 News last night when they announced that they had received the Peabody Award for investigative reporting on the Air Force Academy scandal. Well, I remember when I first read about this scandal -- and that it was in Westword, before any TV report. I was waiting in a Chinese restaurant for my to-go order and picked up Westword. On the cover was a picture of a female Air Force cadet who discussed how she'd been raped, and the lack of support from her superiors to investigate this or support her. I was absolutely shocked to hear of such incidents occurring; I had no idea. But Westword picked up on it, and it was more than a week later that the news broke on Channel 7.

I would like to commend your staff on investigating this and having the courage to report on it and other stories of equal importance. That is what I like about Westword: integrity, honesty and courage in reporting.

Kim Leonard
via the Internet

Editor's note: For the final installment in the Air Force Academy series, see Julie Jargon's "It Won't Fly," on page 29.


Dude!

Chairman of the board: Regarding Jared Jacang Maher's "Pipe Dreams," in the May 13 issue:

Bro, excellent article, but did ya have to use the word "sissy"?! C'mon, dude...

Joe F. Flores
Denver


Conservative Estimates

The right stuff: Regarding Michael Roberts's "New Deal," in the May 13 issue:

I'm not sure which is the less reliable gauge of the Denver Post's new "conservative" columnist's political proclivities: his own web resumé or Westword's Chomskyite media critic. Time will tell for David Harsanyi, who Roberts says is unlike the usual troglodyte hacks who write from the right, "well-written...erudite (even!)." Roberts's far-left perch in the local-media-critic chicken coop makes it a little tough to take him at anything but left-face value.

Still, the Post has never had a conservative voice, while Denver's "conservative" daily is too paralyzed by post-JOA PSAS (pink-slip-avoidance syndrome) to offer a conservative column. Meanwhile, Denver's entertainment weekly gave its last conservative the boot some twenty years ago 'cause, as we all know, only libs enjoy the theater, fine dining and professional services of ALL ASIAN GIRLS!! on South Federal.

Mayhaps the Post's "new" editor has been reading JOA marketing stats and has discovered that more than 50 percent of Coloradans call themselves "conservative." That's a heckuva lot of your advertisers' customers to ignore, vilify and piss off every day. Judging from the short ideological leash on which Greg Moore heels the Post, I won't hold my breath waiting for the new "conservative" columnist-to-be. We'll see whether he's allowed to bay at the moon as advertised, or whether he's to be swatted on the nose with a rolled copy of the Sunday New York Times any time he lifts his leg too far to starboard.

JM Schell
Arvada

Flop sweat: I have never written to complain about what Michael Roberts writes about me or the Denver Post. But I am compelled to respond to his May 13 column, which included slanderous comments about Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez. Characterizing her as a "flop" as a metro columnist is false and a deliberate disregard of the facts. Cindy is a wonderful addition to our paper and offers a unique perspective as a columnist. Mr. Roberts may not have appreciated all of her offerings, but her move to features was strictly her decision. It was not done so I could avoid the embarrassment of admitting she was a flop, to paraphrase Mr. Roberts.

I explained to Mr. Roberts that I approached Cindy about moving her column to features because I was concerned about trying to feature four columnists in the metro section, each writing two to three times a week. I approached her because I knew she had written lifestyle columns before, but I left the decision entirely up to her. The move had nothing to do with the quality of her work or her selection of column topics, and he knows that. Mr. Roberts is entitled to his opinions. But he should stick to the facts and not malign the reputation of Ms. Rodriguez while purposely twisting them.

Gregory L. Moore, editor
The Denver Post

Giving edit where edit's due: I'd like to correct the misimpression that Julia Martinez's promotion to editorial writer was in any way related to the incident with Betsy Hoffman. Angela Cortez resigned in January, creating a vacancy on the editorial board. Following the contract with the Denver Newspaper Guild, we posted the job so internal applicants could express their interest. We received six such applicants, including Julia, whose application was dated January 23. The story on Hoffman appeared February 3, and the clarification ran February 4. Editorial writer is classed in step 16 in the union contract, as opposed to step 14 for reporter, and also carries a pay increase. It takes no special motivation for a talented writer like Julia to seek such a promotion. Greg Moore's respect for Julia is shown by the fact that, after we selected her in early March, he specifically requested that she be allowed to cover the last two months of the legislative session before coming over to our side. She finally joined us May 10, after the session adjourned. She is an extraordinarily able journalist, and we are delighted to have her.

Bob Ewegen, deputy editorial page editor
The Denver Post


The Evil That Men Do

The best revenge: David Holthouse, I just read "Stalking the Bogeyman," in the May 13 issue of Westword, and I have to say, it is the most inspiring story I have ever read. As I was reading it, I experienced painful memories of my childhood and how I wished I could find my stepfather and make him pay for what he had done to my sisters and myself.

After reading this remarkable story, I have a completely different view of how I can change my response to a horribly detrimental act and break the cycle. Instead of getting revenge, I can get the guilt, anger and fear I have felt since I was a little child off my shoulders by just leaving the discipline up to God and forgiving the people who harmed me.

I want to thank you for sharing your story with me and changing my life in a way that will make me a much happier person throughout the rest of my life.

Kari Hunold
Oregon

Suffer the children: David Holthouse, I'm sure you are being inundated with supportive letters about your story. Add me to the list. I'm one of the "one out of four women" in Colorado molested by someone she trusted as a child. It happened to nearly all of my siblings, too. And my niece, who was raped repeatedly by her grandfather.

Your story touched me so much not just because I identified with your experience, but because I am the mother of a beautiful six-year-old son. Despite my experience, I do not regret being a mother. On the contrary, being a mom is the most significant, precious and important aspect of my life. It doesn't compare with any other achievement in my life. Not even close. So if the opportunity arises, I think you should become a dad -- if you want that for yourself. I will tell you that because of my family history, I do tend to worry a lot and, perhaps by some people's standards, "overprotect" my son. My husband and I never leave him with anyone else. We have not been separated from him overnight since he was born.

You are a brave man. I don't know if I could have been as forgiving as you were with your predator. I believe I could kill a man with my bare hands if he did to my son what that sonofabitch did to you. But I understand your need to let go and find peace in yourself. Anger causes so much damage to our bodies and our souls. I pray you have a happy rest of your life.

Name withheld on request

View to a kill: Okay. The same thing happened to me. I was ten. I had/have the same plan. The problem is, he's a cop now. I don't know what to do. It fucked me up, but I survived. (I was/am hypersexual but straight, and I'm still extremely protective of all children.) I still think about killing him. I don't know what I'll do. This is the first time I have ever written a word about the experience. My parents do not know. They never will. I wouldn't let him talk to me if we did meet; I might reconsider. I just keep away. Bad luck for him if we meet up.

Name withheld on request

Closure call: Thank you, David Holthouse. I believe, and certainly hope, that you have enlightened at least one or two of the unconscious masses roaming this planet. If your bravery saved even one child from your horrendous experience, you have much to be proud of. Thank you for using a pen and not a gun to find closure. It was a much stronger, far-reaching and effective medium. You are one brave, intelligent and compassionate hero in my eyes.

I wish you all the good that life can hold.

Heather Lim
Sonoma, California

Of good and evil: I read David Holthouse's story nodding my head. I've been there and been through this myself. Thank God I was never raped, but I was molested several times as a child by an older cousin. He was also fond of psychological harassment and threats. I went through the same gamut of emotions that David did, the same doubts and fears. Was something wrong with me? Did I provoke him? What the hell is his problem? If I hit him on the head hard enough from behind, will he drop dead?

After 25 years, and with the support of my husband, I told my family about it last year. I also told my aunt and confronted the "monster" as well. Come to find out, he had been raped himself as a four-year-old. I never would have known that if I hadn't had the courage to confront my fears. I honestly felt sorry for him. It doesn't change what he did, but it does put a face on the "monster." All I know is that I feel better -- not great, but better -- with the truth out in the open.

I keep coming back to the question about what I was supposed to learn from this. I guess the answer is how you react to things when somebody does something evil to you: You can become evil yourself, or you can try to do good. It's strange, but the only thing that really scares me is the idea of having children of my own -- not because I feel like I couldn't protect them, but because I don't want to subject another human soul to the true horror other people can inflict. Maybe one day I will want to have kids. Maybe that's the ultimate revenge...to have the courage to say, "Yes, despite what happened, life is worth living and passing on to others."

Name withheld on request

Breaking the mold: I thought I was the only one who had those fears. I thought I'd be just like my father. I know I'm not. The second I first held my son in my arms, I knew. I had a similar plan to David Holthouse's. I was going to make my death hurt (if I was like him). This story has given me the strength to contact my father and learn why. Thank you.

Name withheld on request

The final solution: David Holthouse's reference to the Clint Eastwood movie and letting his rapist beg was very emotional. I still think he should have killed him. My significant other had similar, horrible childhood events. She cannot remember the faces, for she was too young, but her anger will always be with her. Sometimes I feel that the only way to correct a wrong such as this is through violence.

Name withheld on request

The end of innocence: David Holthouse, we're of a similar age, so our memories are nearly the same. As are the revenge fantasies. My bogeyman was a teenager who lived three houses down from mine in suburban Phoenix. He ran track in high school, listened to Boston and Aerosmith and had an Oakland Raiders poster on his bedroom wall -- a poster that was to my back as I blew him one afternoon. There were a few other times, I'm sure, but details are hazy. But I do remember that poster: a pencil sketch called "Two Minute Warning," with coach John Madden in a discussion with quarterback Ken Stabler. There was no force, no coercion, just a young man taking advantage of a child who didn't know any better. I didn't realize at the time what had happened, didn't realize for a long while, but when I did, it fucked me up for more than a dozen years. Only after turning 25 did I get help, and the sun has come out since then. That was also the time when I told my family. For them, it explained much of my emotionally erratic adolescence and early adulthood. About five years ago, I called the cops, figuring it was important to get this man off the streets -- if he still walked them. A Phoenix police officer took my report; I never heard back.

I don't know where my bogeyman is now. I could track him down, but I have yet to do so. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I don't want to know what's out there.

Name withheld on request

Judgment day: I understand David Holthouse's feelings exactly. I was molested for ten years of my life (ages five to fifteen) by my stepfather. I am now 33 years old. I told my friend's parents what was happening to me. He was arrested and sent to prison, and was raped repeatedly before being killed in prison.

Name withheld on request

Heart of darkness: Tonight it was well into the early morning when I noticed Westword sitting near the computer. Curious, I began reading David Holthouse's story. To murder this man after what he did to David would be justice, in my mind. But it would have been a secret David would have taken to his grave. Too many secrets are kept and too many lives are ruined not only because of the guilt and shame felt by the victims, but because our society has a difficult time broaching the subject of child molestation and rape. I hope David's story will encourage more victims to come forward so they can seek help. And so these horrible criminals are held accountable and can be prevented from hurting more people.

I kept dark secrets. I was raped by a schoolmate in junior high. Over the years, I have had several men flash me and stalk me. I was too ashamed to tell anyone, and I can't imagine how many others became victims. Had I known better, had more people been more open on the subject of rape and sexual misconduct, I would have reported these people to the police.

My husband kept dark secrets. He was sexually molested when he was a young boy. It is my understanding that he never told his family and never received counseling. My husband is extremely introverted, has dark moods and expresses anger more frequently than anyone I have ever known. I wonder if it's just his personality or perhaps it's because of the rapes.

I have sons, and I watch them like I would daughters. One time, my instinct told me to stay away from a friend's husband. I didn't like the way he looked at my boys. I stopped going to their house. I always follow my instincts and don't worry that I am being overprotective.

Susan
Colorado

The courage to heal: I was deeply touched by David Holthouse's story and courage. It absolutely brought tears to my eyes. I was one of those who fell through the cracks. I could never understand why an old man would touch a young girl, and to this day it still puzzles me. I was molested for three years by my grandmother's husband (my real grandfather died when I was four, and she remarried), and he molested my sister as well. When we told, they did nothing. My grandmother said not to sit on Grandpa's lap anymore, and that was the end of it. She had no idea what we went through, and to this day denies it happened. My mother did nothing, either; she just said we didn't have to visit them anymore. I know the fear of not wanting to hurt anyone, for I have read the statistics, too.

I am grateful that God has given me the strength to be the best person I can be. He has also gifted me with a beautiful son who is the light of my life. The thought of anyone ever violating him makes me absolutely sick, for I know that the bad people are everywhere, too, and they don't wear signs. I pray every night that my tragedy never befalls him, for I would kill anyone who violates him. The worst is having to explain to him that these monsters do exist. I try to give him space to grow, but I find that I am always watching so no one catches him off-guard.

I am blessed to have been able to talk about this, because it has helped me cope with my life now; unfortunately, not everyone can recover. My sister has never recovered or had a relationship with anyone. I still have hope that one day she can find her happiness, too.

Name withheld on request

Keeping quiet: I admire David Holthouse's strength in confronting that monster. I was raped when I was twelve by a man I trusted as a family friend. He did much the same thing, used a weapon and threatened to kill me and my family if I ever said a word. I've kept quiet my whole life for the same reasons David did: at first out of fear, because I believed he would follow through with his threats, and now because I don't want to put my parents through that grief. Like David, I know where my attacker lives, I know he is married, and I know he has children -- and on a daily basis, I feel tremendous guilt and wonder how many other children he has hurt since that time.

I believe the statistics on rape are much higher than reported. My brother was raped by an uncle when he was ten; my mom was raped at the age of five by a family friend; my grandmother was attacked and raped in her twenties by a stranger. I have four children who I know are suffering because of my fear.

I thank you for David's story, and know that I may be able to draw from his courage. But for now, it feels good to have finally told someone.

Name withheld on request

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