Updated: September 5, 2013 4:33PM
Recently we heard from WORRIED MOM, SISTER AND AUNT. Her oldest son, 31, recently confided in her that his male cousin (her sister’s son) had molested him when he was a child. His cousin was a year older. The only reason he told her was she wanted the two of them to live together. He swore her to secrecy and refused therapy.
I told her to do all she could to get her son to see a therapist for his sake and for the sake of the children his cousin might still be molesting. I said she had to honor the promise she made to keep his secret.
Many of you disagreed with me:
MARNIE: Despite the promise she made, the secret he told her is so terrible that she must tell authorities. If someone told you of a murder after swearing you to secrecy, wouldn’t you tell? I put child sex abuse in this category.
LINDSAY: You must tell in some way or form, because it’s probable that your nephew is still molesting, and if you don’t say something, there are heavy consequences. You should probably report this information to the police, because even if the statute of limitations has passed, they can still use that information, if not prosecute for it.
I would go back to your son and tell him you’re really concerned that the abuse may be continuing and that your sister needs to know that her son is a molester. Remind him of the consequences that ongoing molestation will have for others and ask him if he can think of a way that this information can be shared that he would be comfortable with. Have a counselor ready that you’ve vetted.
Make sure you make it clear that you really don’t want to share this information, but if he doesn’t find a way that he’s comfortable with, you will, while protecting his privacy as much as you can. And do it. Maybe you or he can report it anonymously to DCF. That’s probably the best option.
CONCERNED SOCIAL WORKER AND MOM: You are so far out of line with this response! I can’t believe you would, in good conscience, tell her to keep this a secret when another child is possibly being sexually abused! This woman needs to call Child Protective Services immediately.
This is one of those difficult situations in which it’s necessary to break a promise in order to save a child. It’s obvious the woman knows she needs to do something, but she needs some encouragement.
Shame on you both for covering for this pedophile.
Readers, Of course I believe that the authorities should be told about Mom’s nephew. But if her son refuses to testify against him, what is she going to say? “My nephew molested someone, but I can’t say who”? There’s no evidence without her son.
That’s why I urged her to do everything she could to get her son into therapy, hoping that with counseling he would be able to open up and eventually bring the allegations to the authorities as well as to his aunt.
If you know any way of persuading her son to come forward, I’d love to hear it.
Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, the mayor of San Diego. What is it with men in power? Send your thoughts, along with your questions, problems and rants to email@example.com. And check out my new website askcheryl.net.