Mom Who Sexually Abused Teen Deserves Sympathy

gavelIt's the story of two mothers. One a former town mayor and all around upstanding citizen named Linda Lusk who is grieving the death of her child, born with trisomy 13, a serious birth defect that claimed his life at 15. The other, Heidi Frank, a mom dealing with the fact that Linda Lusk pled guilty to sexually abusing her 14-year-old son, Bubba. Now, which one do you pity more?

The knee-jerk response in me, as a mother, especially in the midst of the disgusting Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, is to say that anyone who dares abuse a child is pond scum. No! Lower than pond scum. But life is never as black and white as a first impression -- no matter how visceral the reaction, is it?

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Linda Lusk's son Taylor was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 in the womb. With symptoms that range from severe mental retardation to heart defects, many doctors will suggest a mother abort a Trisomy 13 fetus because their challenges make them incompatible with life. Lusk was told at the boy's delivery that he wouldn't live past a week, but he made it to 15 before dying while she was at work one day.

That story, by itself, makes the mother in me weep. That's my visceral, knee-jerk, first reaction. Linda Lusk gets my sympathy because she's been through a trauma that no parent should ever have to suffer. We aren't supposed to bury our kids. Period.

Now consider what happened with Bubba, her daughter's 14-year-old friend, who has bragged around town that the former mayor had oral sex with him, who says that she did not take advantage of him. Whatever he says, he's wrong. A 51-year-old woman sleeping with a child is taking advantage. What Lusk admits to doing fits every definition of abuse.

It is disgusting. It is wrong. Our inclination to grab the pitchforks and march to Prosser, Washington to protest are completely within reason. I stand with Heidi Frank in saying her son deserved better.

But does that completely negate the other hardship in Linda Lusk's life and wipe away all sympathy? Isn't it possible to have pity for Linda Lusk's troubles as a mother that run concurrent through our minds with our horror and disgust?

This is the gray area in life. Her grief doesn't excuse her alleged actions -- although Lusk and husband Kevin are trying to say it does. But as a human being, I can't ignore the fact that it happened. I can separate the two issues.

Can you? Do you have someone in your life who you both hate and pity -- the way I feel about Linda Lusk?

 

Image via steakpinball/Flickr

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