As the media reports on Cain and Paterno time after time, not just reporting but regurgitating the sordid details day after night after day, it concerns me that "copycat" whistleblowers might pop up like mealy bugs and accuse celebrities with impunity and no cause. Creating a chasm of distress in any man or woman who has been in a position of trust, no matter how long ago, for there is no statute of limitations in these matters. Guilt must be proven and if guilt is proven the repercussions on the victims have already been documented as immense and not amenable to treatment or recourse other than imprisonment or large sums of money. If guilt is not proven irreparable damage has been done to the accused which no amount of whitewash can ever repair.
There are some segments of society who are particularly vulnerable to unfounded accusations. These include celebrities, those who are in the public spotlight for whatever reason, and the mentally ill. The media and public unfairly portray and view the mentally ill, in particular the (paranoid) schizophrenic, as violent and dangerous although statistics prove the schizophrenic is more likely than not to be the victim, and at risk of taking his/her own life rather than harming the public. Celebrities know the risks yet sometimes behave like imperfect humans who don't have the notoriety or wealth to make the evening news. The celebrities: politicians, evangelists, sports figures, actors/actresses, musicians, teachers and so on are held to a different standard because they are viewed as influential in society and in a position of trust.
To some respect I agree. But there is another vulnerable segment of the population, the mentally ill.
I'll give an example from my own past, 22 years ago in 1989 when I stopped taking my medication for the treatment of paranoid schizophrenia and began a quick decline into legal difficulties and incarceration in a mental institution for many months. A "not guilty" verdict in court and a new psychotropic medication left the door open for me to pursue a healthier lifestyle, gain employment once more, make new friends, find a church body and start the upward climb to my present good fortune and well-being, free of delusions and obsessions and well for the past few years. No one would suspect my diagnosis but I who was raised to be a very private person have become a public advocate for schizophrenia and its stigma which persists into the 21st century; its often concomitant abuse of alcohol and other mind altering drugs; its destruction of relationships, employment and thus financial difficulties; schizophrenia's physical, emotional, spiritual and mental toll.
In 1989 I was working at a well known educational institute in Edmonton. My children were adults but still young adults. Both children were working almost full-time and had student loans to repay eventually. My son was living at home, my daughter on her own. At that time I met a woman who identified herself as a Lesbian. She had a history of fraud. This woman was raising her 11-year-old granddaughter. She was later to also take in her grandson. The granddaughter had been diagnosed at birth with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and possibly ADHD. She had been expelled from numerous schools and had difficulty finding a school which would accept her behavior. At the time I met this woman her granddaughter was in Foster Care and the woman seemed reasonable. We didn't have a relationship although briefly that was to occur much later. Throughout the year or two I knew this woman I acted as a surrogate mother to the granddaughter, taking her to a ball game and movies and other venues. This woman drank heavily. I took her to restaurants and spent my own money to the extent of buying her a used car. I was unmedicated at this time and convinced I was God's special agent. My own daughter and son were neglected as a result.
I felt manipulated and abused by this woman but could not seem to break away until my money was gone and she broke off the relationship herself. I didn't see her or the grandchildren again.
I say this because by becoming emotionally and financially involved with this family and the minor granddaughter of a confused and dysfunctional woman, I am presently at risk of completely unfounded accusations. And it scares me. Because I have a history of mental illness and my credibility is not there, and I know it; it's been proven to me time after time. As a minority member of society, no matter how successful I've proven myself in the past 20 years, I have no credibility.
Some people believe in the aphorism, "Innocent until proven guilty" but that's simply not reality. The accuser knows it; the media is anxious to jump on the accused before the facts have been demonstrated or proven in court, and that seems to be the norm now rather than the exception.
Let's be very sure--Quaecumque Vera. Because a life can be destroyed. It could happen to me. It could happen to you.