I wish I could tell you that this incident, a family friend sexually assualting an 11 year old girl with neurological problems, is unusual. It’s not. Not in the Western world. Not in the Eastern world. Not anywhere.
A study conducted in 2000 found that 17% of women with disabilities reported that they had experienced rape or sexual and / or physical assault as opposed to 9% of women without disabilities. According to a 1998 report, 16% of children at-risk (a total of about 330,000) suffered from abuse or neglect. The greatest number of these were children from poor or out-of-work families and children with disabilities, especially cognitive or behavioral disabilities.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are special parents like the one in this story who hear the most horrendous stories from their children and find within themselves the courage to believe and support them.
Look at the web of lies this criminal spun around this child. How he won the trust of her family and tried to use her cognitive difficulties against her. And look how this family worked together to stop the abuse and restore a sense of self-respect and trust to this girl.
V. and family, we salute you. May you continue to see the fruits of your courage in the face of deception.
The mother of the 11 year-old girl who reported that she had been raped by a family friend said that it was unbelievable that this ‘nice grandfatherly figure’ did such terrible things to her. “I trusted him”
Zohar Sosanko Aug. 8, 2009
V., the mother of the 11 year-old girl allegedly raped by Charl Sitbon, a 69 year-old resident of Netanya and family friend, reported in a conversation with Maariv/NRG how her daughter described to her the terrible things done to her by the “nice grandfatherly figure” they knew.
According to the mother, her daughter told her about the terrible things Sitbon had done to her only after a cousin of the mother convinced the girl to do so.
“I was in shock,” The mother described her reaction after hearing what her daughter had to say. “She told me things and described things that a little girl could not possibly know without having experienced them.”
The mother said” “Since then, I haven’t slept. I imagine what happened and it’s hard for me to breathe. Each time, he told her: ‘Don’t forget that it is our secret. If your mother finds out, I will get in trouble and so will you.’ I explained to her that it was not her fault.” The suspect was transporting the girl to and from medical treatments.
Five years ago, a month after V. moved to Israel from France, her daughter was in a serious accident; she was hit by a car while crossing the street. As a result, the girl was hospitalized unconscious for three weeks. Since then, she has required regular treatments for neurological problems.
The mother said that two years ago, she met Sitbon at an event arranged by the municipality in honor of immigrants from France.
“He helped me. He drove us to my daughter’s treatments,” she said. “Sometimes, he took my daughter shopping so she could get out of the house a little and did not always have to be with me. Then he did these things to her.”
She added that he was practically the only person she could rely upon in Israel. He was 69 and my daughters looked upon him as a ‘grandfather’. I wasn’t worried because he was married with children and grandchildren. I never thought about things like this.”
Immediately after her daughter told her what happened V. called the suspect and asked him to come over. “I told him that I needed to speak with him,” she described. “I asked him what he did to my daughter. He replied that something was wrong with her, that she was a liar, and then he left. We went immediately to the police .
The mother added that, according to the girl, the suspect had committed a series of indecent assaults over the course of the last year and always warned her not to tell. Nonetheless, the mother points out that she sees in retrospect that it was becoming increasingly difficult for her daughter to be around Sitbon.
“When he would come, she would say: ‘If that is Charl, I do not want to see him. He annoys me.’ Still, I never believed that it was something like this.
She noted that one time her daughter told her that she had slapped the suspect. When she asked the child why she had hit him, she responded: “Just because.” The mother even asked Sitbon, who responded, “She is abnormal.”
After Sitbon’s arrest ,the mother said that she started to see positive changes in the child’s behavior. “We see that since she told her entire story, she feels better. She has taken a great weight off of her shoulders.
The mother explained that her daughter is afraid she made a mistake. “I told her she is not responsible for what happened, she added. “He did ‘not-nice’ things to you and you had to tell so he can be punished for what he did.” She said that she never wants to see him again.
In conclusion, the mother said: “I want to tell mothers to be careful with their children and with people like this, in particular single mothers.”
Amen to that.