|Bert G. Hornback|
When a twisted man shot and killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook elementary, not one person said “there are two sides to every story.” Clearly, some stories do not extend beyond the brutal facts. But all too often accounts of rape or child molestation stir up a chorus of “there are two sides to every story.”
Sadly, we are there once again.
Just hours after Dylan Farrow published a detailed account of being molested as a child by her adoptive father, Woody Allen, her story was clumsily challenged by a Robert Weide, Allen’s friend and biographer.
The tragedy of this situation is that, unlike brutal cold-blooded murder, brutal cold-blooded rape and child molestation often does not leave enough blood stains and other physical evidence to eliminate all doubt that it occurred—which is no mere coincidence; rapists and molesters plan it that way.
So the victims—those brave enough to speak up—are the ones put on the defensive.
“She was only seven. How could she remember so much detail? Her vindictive mother must have planted those stories in her head. They were going through a nasty divorce you know.”
“Woody wouldn’t rape his daughter in the attic. He’s a well known claustrophobic.” (Read the article. Weide actually makes this argument.)
And the old standby, “What were you wearing when he attacked you?”
Sometimes, though, molesters get careless and hand evidence over to their victims … victims like me.
Bert G. Hornback--Charles Dickens scholar, former English professor at the University of Michigan, and best man at my parent’s wedding--molested me from the time I was 12 until I was 16 when I finally punched him in the mouth.
Like all child molesters, Bert was an expert at isolating me from my family so he could molest me. How expert? How about “A Birthday Trip to Europe with Just You and Your Uncle Jerry!” We called him Uncle Jerry then. I have different names now.
“Isn’t this wonderful, John? Jerry wants you to spend two weeks in England with him on a house boat travelling on the River Thames.”
“But I don’t want to go to England. I hate traveling.”
“You’re going, John. That’s final.” That was my dad. He was a pilot for TWA and couldn’t understand why any kid wouldn’t want to spend two weeks on a houseboat with his Uncle Jerry.
So I went.
I’ll save the details for another post. The short story is I woke up one night next to Bert in the boat’s “double bed” to find him molesting me. A little context: Bert was over six feet tall and weighed 240 easy. Even though I had just turned 16, I was a lot smaller. I hadn’t yet broken 100 pounds. But at this point I figured I had nothing to lose. So I made a fist with my right hand and smacked the bastard right in the chops. He harrumphed in shock then slowly rolled over and “went back to sleep,” or whatever. I raced out of there and spent the rest of the night sitting in the galley.
Now, if we were following social protocol, right about now some fair and balanced unmolested adult would challenge my account and remind me the “there are two sides to every story.” And without any evidence, it really would come down to his word against mine. And he was my GODfather, a respected author, former English professor at the University of Michigan, best man at my parent’s wedding, and blah, blah, blah.
But as I mentioned, I have proof and it’s time I shared it with you.
Following is a heavily redacted but very real email exchange with the guy who molested me when I was a kid, Bert G. Hornback. If you google him, don’t forget the “G.” There are other Bert’s out there.
THE MOLESTER: I'm sorry your memories of our friendship are so horrible. … We kissed, but innocently. The first time we ever kissed a lot was the summer you and Michael and Mary Beth and I went to Notre Dame … The first day we were there we kissed a lot. You were fourteen then?
The summer you and Michael and I went to London and Paris was very innocent. The next summer you and I were in London. We went boating on the Thames, and we stayed in London. At night, in London, I would XXXXX. Nothing more, nothing sexual. One night I XXXXX … You said "Don't," and I removed my hand.
That's the closest I ever came to molesting you, John. And I have never come that close to molesting anybody else. I am sorry that you are so angry. … Yes, I loved you--as I would have loved a son. … I tried to help and protect you. That's my honest understanding of our past, John.
ME: I am too enraged to refute your lies point by point, but surely you remember that I hit you in the face when I woke up to find you XXX. … And your "he was 14 defense" ain't gonna cut it, chum. I broke 100 pounds when I was 16. What did you weigh back then, chum? 240? …
MOLESTER: I have no idea where all this comes from, John. I am sorry. YOUR MEMORY AND MY MEMORY HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON. I'm very sorry to read what you allege. IT ISN’T TRUE, WHATEVER YOU MAY BELIEVE. (Emphasis mine)
ME: Shove it, clown.
I’ll share the rest of the email later. But I am posting this much because I want people to understand that child molesters are cunning. And obviously deluded. So when a person, especially a young person, says that someone did ANYTHING suspicious to him or her, believe the kid. Every time.