By Loraine Ritchey
DUE TO THE UNPLEASANT CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE FOLLOWING STORY, I SUGGEST A PARENT PREVIEW OR READ THIS WITH YOUR YOUNG DANCER.
The story is unfortunately, very true and in my opinion needs to be told. Names have been deleted so that the children and the locale have been made generic. I have been made aware of all the parties concerned, it is now a matter of public record and those that remained "silent" are also known.
Although the perpetrator and those that supported him by their silence should be held up to public scrutiny, the children, parents and teacher have suffered enough. So I will not name the local or the personage. Hopefully, the shame they should all feel will cause them as many sleepless nights as the victims of their silent betrayal.
JANUARY 2004 UPDATE
I WAS ASKED TO REMOVE THE ARTICLE FROM THE WEBSITE UNTIL AFTER SENTENCING OF THE INDIVIDUAL. UNFORTUNATELY ALTHOUGH THE VERDICT WAS GUILTY HE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING;
The judge gave his report and it was wonderful. He stated that **** was a paedophile, (apparently there is a difference between a child sex offender and a paedofile and that had to be proved). That he was manipulative and calculated, that although he showed remorse he didn't believe he was remorseful and that he would do it again if he could etc etc etc. So we sat there agreeing with all he said, for 40 mins and then - he started on the things that would automatically get him less time - that he pleaded guilty so he gets 25% off the sentence for not putting the victim through a trial(expletive deleted) he pleaded guilty because he knew he'd get 25% off) Then he gets less time because he has to be in protected custody and that is harder?????? So, for a max of 25 year sentence he gave him 6yrs - out on parole in 4.3"It was horrible. His mother and father and brother were over the other side of the courtroom smirking.
Note: This cretin's brother, a professional dancer who was aware of his "problem" and make -up and jail history allowed this low life to perform on stage with him and in the company of children, his mother as the article states also left "her son" in charge of her dancers! They knew his history because he had been jailed for it before. The brother who has young dancers looking to him as a role model , his name will remain unknown to the public in this instance as to publish his name and the name of his family would only bring more hurt to the children involved. However, the family that enabled and the Highland dance community that kept quiet are known and history will come back to haunt, that is a promise! (Loraine)
"SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN.."
by Loraine Ritchey
There are times in this Highland world when "silence is the rule" the rule of associations, organizations, studios and individuals. Workshops on steps that make people sign provisos, minutes kept in house not wanting others to know what is going on, little secret meetings, information kept from others in the dance community. This behavior seems very childish and laughable to the onlooker especially when it is "world wide Highland" behavior!
After all who is hurt by this behavior? Yes, the art form because it is relegated even more to the back of the stage. But on the whole this behavior only harms the perpetrators in the long run and makes them look silly and questions their credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world. Let them play their games of information and disinformation on a need to know basis and who needs to know. Who gets hurt? Adults who certainly should stand up for themselves and say enough of this nonsense, but they don't really care to get involved? So the secret silence continues.
Laughable and childish, except there are children that aren't laughing. Children who have been physically and mentally scarred for the rest of their lives due to silence! Silence of one dance school and association and people have caused the "children of the dance" unspeakable pain. Parents sickened at the thought that by putting their child in dance the innocence of childhood is forever denied. A teacher of dance who unwittingly put her students in" harms way" because "NO ONE SAID ANYTHING!"
I am not naming the dance school or the specific locality, as I don't want the children to have any more attention drawn to them than has already happened. The teacher has written a full account and this is the story of a Highland Horror!
His name is ******, a dancer who studied ballet, Irish, Highland, his mother also a teacher. It wasn't until his late twenties that he arrived at his last studio. A good mix for him it seemed and the teacher. ****** is a deaf adult and the Highland teacher is also a teacher of the deaf she writes:
"Everyone loved ****** all of my dancers, all of my parents, all of my family, I would have classed him as one of my personal friends. He was an amazing man. He is profoundly deaf, but lip-reads wonderfully. With this deafness he had carved out for himself a career in graphic design, was an amazing musician and a very good dancer (Premier). He loved to dance, and would be at lessons 3 times a week and then at competitions or displays almost every weekend."
Sometimes ****** behavior caused concern to the teacher
" I am a Teacher of the Deaf, so I see this kind of thing (social inappropriateness) all the time - unfortunately, in this instance it blinded me from the truth. It is very difficult to correct an adult (not as in dancing, but behavior). Often, when I felt that behavior wasn't appropriate, instead of 'telling him off' I would remove the child from the situation '
The teacher returning from abroad after two months away, saw that ******'s behavior seemed to be becoming more suspect and not just social inappropriateness but something more sinister started tugging at the corners of her mind. She then decided that she should, for the sake of her students, see if there was indeed something else happening. She continues with her story:
" I spoke to an 'appropriate govenmental agency' because there was a suspicion they could look up his information, not for one minute did they think he would be registered.
" I received a phone call I will never forget the opening words, '****** is a convicted sex offender'. He has served 3.and a half years in jail (naming the location) and is currently on parole. He is not supposed to be having any contact with children, he is not supposed to be at a place where there are children without a responsible adult (responsible in the sense that they have to know his past), he is not supposed to be at competitions, or travel outside a designated area (he had gone outside the area a number of times for competitions).
****** was arrested and put in jail for violation of parole; he had to serve 3 months (that took him up to the end of his original sentence). I did not see him at all from the time I found out. I received a message from him on the day that it all broke that said ' I so sorry, I don't know what to say right now, I'm sorry to put you and the girls through this'.
He swore that he hadn't reoffended, that it was all blown out of proportion up in (locale named) when it all happened.
In January I got a phone call from one of my parents. Her family was very close to ****** they had been at each other's places all the time for dinner and parties, and they went to competitions together. Her 10-year-old daughter had told her friends that ****** had touched her. We all were sick with fright and worry. Another govenmental agency became involved and it came out that ****** had sexually assaulted her. The little girl could remember dates/details of times that it happened.
On the day that ****** was due to be released from jail he walked out and was arrested on these new charges. He has informed authorities of his guilt and says that he has assaulted her so often he can't even remember the number of times."
"You see, it should never have happened down here in (locale named) He lived here with his mother, father and brother(NOTE LR THE BROTHER IS ALSO AN ADULT). They all knew what he had been jailed for in (local named) and yet THEY ALLOWED him to 'carry on' with children the way he did at competitions. Indeed, his mother, who had her own dancing school HANDED IT OVER TO HIM when she and her husband went on a' trip in September . Her dancing school was made up of - one 4-year-old, one 5 year old, one 6 year old, one 9 year old, two 12 year olds, one 16 year old. She was basically handing him his "heroin".
Indeed, one of the times when my young dancer was molested was at his house, in his room WHEN HIS MOTHER WAS HOME.......... (This had happened after my lessons on a Saturday morning and ******was traveling with this family to a country competition. The child had pestered and pestered her mother to let her go up to ****** place and meet there before they left. The mother was only with me for 15 minutes after******left, and he did it in this time, with his mother in the house.)
Highland dancing people in (locale named) KNEW THAT HE WAS A CHILD SEX OFFENDER!!!!!!!!!! They knew, and they knew he was living here and dancing, indeed, they knew he was learning from me. AND YET NO ONE SAID ANYTHING!!!!
We think that the highland dancing world is small and that a crime as shocking as this would not be hushed up, or not spoken about. Well it is certainly being spoken about now. I am making sure that our (association named) minutes have it minuted that he is a pedophile, they didn't want to put his name, I said that it is now public record, and we must ensure it doesn't happen again.
My dancing Association is writing to the (governing board of the country named) board to ask the (regional) board to explain themselves in allowing these children to be put under risk by not telling anyone about his past. It is almost as if they thought 'Well, it's not (our) children so let's just leave the past in the past'. In fact, that is what we have heard through the grapevine, that they wanted to give him a new start"
Everyone had been fooled by him. The ****** that we knew and, that we loved, was an act, of a sick sick man. His mother is now on a warpath, saying that his brothers life has been ruined because WE ARE TELLING PEOPLE WHAT HAS HAPPENED Not that their lives are like they are because they allowed him to carry on as he did, to let him think it was all right, when they knew his past. They have no idea how they have ruined all of our lives, especially those of the 10 year old girl I teach. You hear about stories, you read about them in the newspaper, but you never expect that it is going to happen to you!"
****** has admitted his GUILT! but is he the only one who "raped" the children of the dance? What about those that enabled this most offensive of acts, those that "stayed silent" The ripple effect of the "conspiracy of silence" in this instance is not laughable and perpetrators of the games seen not as silly but enablers of a vileness that should see them pilloried. The consequences were devastating to the families and teachers students. It is the child of the dance who has suffered, her body and trust violated why? 'NO ONE SAID ANYTHING!!!!!!
As always for Questions and Comments, I can be reached at
Loraine Ritchey, 1127.W. 4th Street, Lorain, Ohio, 44052.