A family whose eighth-grade son was molested for years by a teacher at Rose City Middle School in Rose City, Michigan is being harassed for demanding that the school board reverse its decision not to fire a group of teachers who spoke out in support of the pedophile.
The Blaze is reporting on the bizarre case of 38 year-old Neal Erickson who was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor for repeatedly molesting the then 13 year-old son of John and Lori Janczewski.
During Erickson’s sentencing, several teachers from the school wrote letters to the judge asking for leniency for the former teacher. “Neal has plead (sic) guilty for his one criminal offense but he is not a predator,” said one teacher in a letter to the court. “This was an isolated incident. He understands the severity of his action and is sincere in his desire to make amends…”
Even Circuit Court Judge Michael Baumgartner was appalled by the letters and, after handing down the sentence, said he couldn’t believe anyone was supporting Erickson.
“I’m appalled and ashamed that the community could rally around, in this case, you,” Baumgartner said. “What you did was a jab in the eye with a sharp stick to every parent who trusts a teacher.”
Most of the community felt the same way, especially parents whose children were still attending the school and were appalled at the thought that teachers who would stand up for a convicted pedophile would also be teaching their children.
But no one was more shocked than the victim’s family. Lori Janczewski, the mother of the boy who was molested, is currently being treated for breast cancer that metastasized into her lungs. During a radio interview with Glenn Beck, she said could have lived with the knowledge that the teachers were still educating other children had it not been for the way they defended the convicted child molester.
“They put at the bottom of their letters that there was no harm done to our son, he’s a straight A student,” Janczewski said. “I can’t live with that,” she said. “They had no idea. And how dare they…”
She described how the abuse caused a rift in the family, turning their home into a “battle zone.” Their son shut them out to hide the shame he felt, but kept silent because Erickson was threatening to get his mother fired from the school. At the time, her husband John, who has multiple sclerosis, was unemployed and Lori, who was working at the school, was the source of the family’s only income.
After Erickson was convicted and sentenced, the Janczewskis and others in the community began to pressure the school to fire the teachers who wrote the letters.
Not long after this, John said he woke up on a Saturday morning around 1:30 a.m. to the sound of a loud bang.
“I woke up to a loud, like M-80 or bomb going off,” he told the Herald Saturday. “I went to the window and saw a huge glow, brighter than the sun.”
It was his garage. The building was engulfed in flames. When he and Lori ran outside to move their cards, they saw letters spray painted on the side of the house – “YWP ITY”.
Although they’re not sure what the message means, they think it could be something like “You Will Pay” and “I Told You.”
“If I wouldn’t have woken up, we could’ve all died,” he said. “Whoever’s done this has no remorse. They have no soul.”
Police suspect the fire was intentional.
Meanwhile, the West Branch-Rose City school board voted 4-2 on August 19 not to fire the teachers. Instead, the entire staff of the district will undergo ethics training. The board will also attempt to accommodate requests from parents who do not want their children in the teachers’ classrooms.
The decision provoked outrage among most of the 300 people who attended the meeting, with most leaving in disgust when they heard the teachers would be retained.
“I hope you’re happy,” someone shouted on the way out, according to the Ogemaw Herald. “Because nobody else is.”
The episode has caused an enormous rift in this small farming community and has shaken the faith of the Janczewskis.
As John told Glenn Beck, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rose City, Michigan actually posted the bail for his son’s molester.
“Could you believe a church posted bail for him? A church just down from my house, that back in April, he [Father Daniel J. Stonebeck] came into where I work and I asked him, I said I’m losing my faith in God. My wife has cancer, I have MS, my son was molested. Can I talk to you. He said I’m going on a cruise for two weeks. I will call you then. It’s been an awful long two weeks, hasn’t it. And he was in court, sitting on Neal’s side, and that church posted bail for a child molester.”
Beck has pledged to continue to cover the unfolding story. His charity organization, Mercury 1, has also promised to rebuild the Janczewskis garage.
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