Tyler Perry has written a poignant open letter to the former 11-year-old boy who spoke out about the alleged sexual abuse committed by former Pennsylvania State University coach Jerry Sandusky. The boy is now a teenager and has been forced to leave high school after rampant bullying from other students.
Perry is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and posted his letter at Newsweek's Daily Beast.
I was a very poor young black boy in New Orleans, just a face without a name, swimming in a sea of poverty trying to survive. Forget about living, I was just trying to exist. I was enduring a lot of the same things that you’ve come forward and said happened to you, and it was awful. I felt so powerless. I knew what was happening to me, but unlike you, I couldn’t speak about it because no one saw me. I was invisible and my voice was inaudible.
So to think that you, when you were only 11 years old, spoke up—you are my hero! I’m so proud of you. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. Please know that you were chosen by a monster. You didn’t choose him. You didn’t ask for it and, most of all, you didn’t deserve it.
Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods. All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all!
I had a few of those adults in my life, too. They knew and did nothing. One of them even said to me that it was my fault, because I allowed myself to spend time with the molesters. And yes, this was someone who was in power and could have called the police, but instead this person allowed this criminal to go on molesting other young boys for many years.
After the release of Precious in 2009, the director shared his own story of childhood sexual abus. Bravo to TP for opening dialogue around such a widespread—but rarely discussed—problem in our culture.
The 67-year-old Sandusky has been charged with 40 counts of criminal acts involving sexual abuse toward eight young boys between the ages of 10 and 15. Prosecutors have revealed that police were never alerted despite eyewitness accounts of the sexual abuse. Legendary coach Joe Paterno—with 61 years and 400+ wins—was fired after being accused of covering up Sandusky's criminal behavior.