Julie Tangen Steen letter: Horror of David Ortner's behavior is news
In regard to Grant Richardson's letter of Nov. 10: Legally, what Dave Ortner has done is plead guilty. In reality, he barely admits culpability.
In regard to Grant Richardson's letter of Nov. 10:
Legally, what Dave Ortner has done is plead guilty. In reality, he barely admits culpability. After hearing the transcripts of his testimony of the first trial read in court at the second trial, it is clear to me that Dave admits to only "making mistakes." The graphic detail recounted by his now-adult victims should make clear that his were not mistakes, but a systematic campaign to cultivate, demoralize, terrorize and sexually assault children.
The graphic detail hardly qualifies as anecdotal, but was indeed essential for the court to hear in order to make a sound judgment. "Anecdotal information" defines witty, entertaining little stories -- this does not apply when describing the atrocities that Ortner perpetrated on children.
I am grateful for the unflinching reporting The Forum's Dave Olson has done on these cases. I expect that the details are hard for people to read. Imagine having lived through it. Imagine having experienced these things as a child, then bearing it alone for, in some instances, more than 25 years. Imagine what it was like at 9, 12, or 15 years old, to be molested, assaulted, or raped by a person in authority -- in some cases a trusted family friend -- and told to keep it a secret. Imagine what it was like to be told you deserved it. Imagine what it was like to be so afraid that you couldn't tell your parents. These things really happened, over and over again.
I hope the graphic details make every reader uncomfortable. I hope it drives home the fact that it was happening, for more than a quarter of a century, to children in your community by a successful, lifelong resident. I hope it makes you so nauseated that you talk to your own children today, that you cultivate trust and communication with them, and try to do whatever it takes to make them safe.
It is essential that, as revolting as the details are, they be chronicled. It is essential that we, as adults, do not turn away from the reality of this behavior. We, individually and collectively, must be appalled enough to be vigilant in ensuring that it never happens to another child, ever. If reading uncomfortable details is what it takes, so be it. It will have been worth it.
Julie Tangen Steen
Park Rapids, Minn.