Yesterday, New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein wrote a blog titled, “Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church: Why Is It Still a Story?” Because reporters, especially those at the Times, love to cover such stories, even if almost all of the abuse occurred decades ago. By contrast, stories of abuse happening right now in the public schools are of little interest.
It’s actually more profound than this. Two months ago, the Times did a story on a seminarian from Ohio who was arrested for seeking out young Mexican girls to molest. Yet the Times did not run a story today on yesterday’s sentencing of a middle school teacher from West Harlem who was convicted of sexual abuse.
In October 2015, Adiyemi Prowell was charged with sexually assaulting six students. When school officials initially learned of his predatory behavior, they did nothing. Here’s how it affected one student.
An 11-year-old girl who was molested in 2012 tried to get out of his class, but was denied. Her grades suffered so much that many thought she had a disability. In the fall of 2013, Prowell was removed from the classroom, and shortly thereafter the victim’s parents learned of what had happened: their daughter opened up to them.
The girl begged her parents not to say anything about this, fearing peer gossip. So they waited to hear from school officials. But no one ever called. The girl continued to suffer and finally the parents moved her to another school in March 2014, but not before telling school administrators. The officials not only brushed them off, they withheld information that Prowell had molested other students as well. No family counseling was offered.
Yesterday, after a judge noted that Prowell had served 400 hours of community service, he reduced his sentence from a felony to a misdemeanor. He got no jail time. He also got no story in the New York Times.
Contact Times public editor, Margaret Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org