The taped phone conversation between the wife of Syracuse assistant head basketball coach Bernie Fine and Bobby Davis, Fine’s alleged sexual assault victim, should be required listening for every mental health professional in America—and probably, every parent.
Listening to Laurie Fine agree with Bobby Davis in 2002 that he was repeatedly sexually abused as a boy by her husband, while also intimating that she herself had been sexually active with Mr. Davis (perhaps when he was 18-years-of-age), can help people comprehend just how abusive, self-centered, manipulative and cowardly a human being can be. Laurie Fine is that human being: A woman who--if she is to be believed—allowed a child to be sexually traumatized while doing nothing to stop it. She even makes it clear that she is certain that Davis is not the only child her husband has sexually violated.
The Fines, it would seem, are the stuff of psychological thrillers: A husband who prefers male children to his wife sexually and believes he is above the law, and a wife who prefers his company and fat check for coaching to protecting others. Add in a college that says it investigated the allegations against Fine and found him appropriate to keep on campus (and not report to authorities), while bilking millions from the sports team he helped lead to victory, and you’ve got a psychological thriller that would make people doubt it’s believability.
That’s the problem with lots of abuse that goes unreported; it seems unthinkable. That’s why the taped phone conversation of Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis is so important. It could actually wake some people up to the fact that child sexual abuse is rampant in America, and that victims do, indeed, carry around their suffering quietly, not reporting it for many years, or decades.
Lest we forget, we have a United States Senator—Scott Brown (R, MA)—who has reported that he was sexually abused as a boy. Yet the Senator is either too afraid or feels no particular obligation to say who victimized him. And that means that very successful men (and women), who can lead in many circumstances, and who seem supremely confident, can actually still feel like children being fondled, and still be on the journey toward real self-confidence, self-reliance and empowerment.
Judging from my practice in a small town north of Boston—where I have personally heard many entirely credible stories of childhood sexual abuse from adults who relate them to me decades later—I believe we are dealing with many thousands of unreported sexual predators, whose victims have been unwilling to come forward.
One reason they live in the shadows is that, like Bobby Davis, and like the alleged victims of Jerry Sandusky, they doubt they will be believed. After all, Syracuse University seems to have done about as good a job investigating Bernie Fine as the SEC did with Bernie Madoff. Victims may even feel so humiliated by the experience that publicly identifying themselves seems untenable. Who wants to be known for the moments when one was most vulnerable and least protected and most violated? It takes an act of incredible courage to come forward.
That’s why Bobby Davis is simply worth more than any administrator at Syracuse University who touched the Bernie Fine case (touched, word choice intentional). That’s why Bobby Davis is worth a thousand Jerry Sanduskys and Joe Paternos. That’s why Bobby Davis could teach them all lessons in character. Knowing how to score points in a game says nothing about knowing how to score points as a man. We should have learned that lesson by now, too.
Just listen to Laurie Fine. It could wake you up. There are thousands of her out there. She could be the woman making your kids cookies, or the woman you go out as couples with, or the woman driving your kids to school. And any of them could have a husband who is a sexual predator down in the basement.
I’ve seen the victims. Don’t let your kids be among them. It happens, literally, all the time.
Dr. Ablow is the author of the upcoming book, "Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony." He is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at email@example.com. His team of Life Coaches can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.