I often read stories where the words “courage” or “heroic” are used, normally to saccharine excess.
Those words have been drained of life for the most part in our written world today. A guy is a hero if he doesn’t slam the door on a little old lady.
I will break my rule about using the term courage because I can think of no other word to use in this column.
For two months I covered the criminal trial of Malcolm Fraser, the Enumclaw pastor of Sound Doctrine Church who was convicted of child rape and molestation.
Through the years I have covered many crime stories and pieces involving intense controversy and legal issues. I have succeeded in making lots of people mad at me, which is one of the perks of this job.
Most stories don’t affect me. I cover them, some readers are angry, some are happy. That is the nature of the business.
This story was different.
The two months I spent in that courtroom and the three days I sat and listened to the testimony of the young woman who brought the crimes committed against her to light were different. I do not believe anyone who listened to the testimony could walk away the same person. It changed me… and I am old and grouchy.
There has been some information posted on the web questioning the young woman’s testimony by supporters of Fraser who were not in the courtroom during the direct and cross examination of her.
I was there and I heard what she said… every minute of it. If there is a word for what she did, it is courage. To go through the abuse this young woman recounted when she was 10 and 11 years old, then to retell it over and over on the stand in front of a jury, Fraser, lawyers and me, took more courage than I have ever witnessed.
After listening to her it became clear why most men who commit these crimes get away with it for years, sometimes forever.
Most young woman will never go through what she did. It takes a certain type of courage to look these demons in the eye and I am at a loss to explain her courage beyond this.
The thoughts I left the trial with are – how do we as a community, town, state and nation, begin to address this type of crime? It happens. It happens far too often, in every community. How do we do a better job of teaching young boys to respect girls? That has to be where it begins… simple respect.
And finding the courage to do what is right, win or lose.
Aristotle wrote, “… courage involves pain, and is justly praised; for it is harder to face what is painful than to abstain from what is pleasant.”
It was courage she found.