Bob Lonsberry

Bob Lonsberry

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        The Kirk Ashton verdict is in.


               It wasn’t even close.


               Every adult in that school ought to be locked up.


               Every adult should be locked up and the building should be bulldozed into a pile and left as a reminder of what happens when people don’t do their duty.


               Kirk Ashton was the principal at Northwood Elementary School in Hilton, New York. He liked little boys. A lot.


               And everybody knew it.


               And nobody did anything about it.


               For something like 20 years he had special lunches in his office with little boys, sitting them on his lap, massaging them, slipping his hands into their clothes.


               At school. During the day.


               And people knew it.


               The lunch lady knew it. The custodian knew it. The union president told concerned teachers to document it.


               And they did. Videos, notations, journals. Which has made them all excellent witnesses at his kid-diddling trial. Yes, they’ve been excellent witnesses.


               But crappy people.


               Because for all the upset and concern and just plain creepy stuff going on in that school year after year, nobody ever quite got around to doing anything about it. It was the elephant in the room and everybody looked the other way.


               I guess keeping little boys from being sexually assaulted, some of them for years on end, never quite rose to the level of being something any of the adults at the school wanted to do anything about.


               Which is odd.


               Because teachers are what the state of New York calls “mandated reporters.” That means if they suspect any sort of child abuse anywhere in a child’s life they are obligated by law to report that to a state abuse hotline.


               Obligated by law – that’s for those who have had their consciences and instincts surgically removed.


               Because the average person doesn’t need to be prompted by law to protect children. The average person – like most mammals – just does it.


               But Northwood Elementary wasn’t average. And the Hilton Central School District wasn’t competent. Because for most of two decades this disgusting, predatory son of a bitch preyed upon little boys and neither his bosses nor his subordinates did anything to stop him.


               Which is surprising.


               Because it turns out Kirk Ashton isn’t the only (alleged) pedophile on the planet, and it turns out Northwood Elementary isn’t the only place such a pervert went looking for prey.


               Aware of that fact, organizations serving children across the society have established programs and rules meant to protect children and detect their abuse. The scouts have figured it out, the churches have figured it out, day cares and rec centers have figured it out.


               No one-on-one children alone with adults, no closed doors, no secrets, lots of eyes and lots of hammering home that if you see something you say something.


               And yet here is Kirk Ashton, empowered by the Hilton school district and facilitated by every adult in that building.


               For crying out loud, he was giving little boys cologne. He was massaging their shoulders in class. So out of line was his physical conduct out in the open that in one instance a custodian, upon seeing it, instinctively yelled out in revulsion. And that was out in the open. Who knows what happened when – day after day – little boys went into his office and the door was closed.


               Sadly, we do know what happened. One after the other, those little boys have had to climb up into the witness chair over the last couple of weeks to tell the court what Kirk Ashton did to them.


               One told of going to his teacher and telling her, and of being told that he was a liar, and of, as a result, being sent to the principal’s officer, where the door closed again.


               There is horror in this story. The predictable horror of predatory pedophilia, and the unpredictable horror of 20 years of adults, most with master’s degrees, who never acted upon their uneasiness and suspicions. Many have said they felt something was up, and some took token actions, but nobody dropped the dime.


               Nobody notified Ashton’s superiors. Nobody called the state hotline.


               They all forgot the number to 911.


               And the little boys kept getting abused.


               The Kirk Ashton verdict is in.


               It wasn’t even close.


               Every adult in that school ought to be locked up.

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