You know what they say ... Money makes the world go 'round. In the case of local baseball and recreation complexes, whoever puts up the dough can see their name slapped on the park. Yes, even if the person putting up the dough is a convicted sex offender.
Several days ago, The Ottawa Citizen reported that in Amherstburg, Ontario -- just across the border from Detroit -- Jim Massen, an 80-year-old retired TV repairman, farmer, and convicted sex offender, donated $50,000 for the new Miracle League baseball diamond for disabled children. In turn, the diamond's score clock will have his name on it. He also donated $55,000 to the town for the new United Communities Credit Union Complex, and so the road leading to the new complex has been named Massen Drive. The tournament office in the complex and a walking trail outside also will be named after him.
The guy who was sentenced to jail for a year after pleading guilty to two counts of gross indecency and one count of sexual touching involving three teenage boys.
According to The Citizen, Massen thought he was not at fault. He said he thought the boys were old enough to consent, even though one was only 13, and the other two were 16. The stories of what went down with Massen and the boys are pretty graphic. One was lured to Massen's farm with the promise of a job. Another brought Massen a TV to be repaired, only to have sexual acts performed on him. A third received money and the use of Massen's car in exchange for sexual favors. Supposedly, Massen used pornographic magazines and movies to lure two boys.
Massen also has four convictions of indecent assault from 1965, although he received a pardon from the National Parole Board in 2004.
But now ... kids and teens in the community will have no choice but to encounter his name ALL OVER THE PLACE. Definitely skeeves me out! If I lived in that town, I would not be okay with this. Yeah, it was a while ago, but the guy did something incomprehensible, and to have his name permanently associated with a local landmark is just creepy as hell. I'm sure he's laughing his butt off about the whole thing.
He told The Citizen:
They needed the money. It was an opportunity to get my name on the place. I had the money. I was a major citizen in the community for a long time.
The Amherstburg town council approved all the contracts with Massen, establishing the naming rights in exchange for the donations, and then, the local Rotary Club agreed to Massen's name on the score clock. Now they're claiming they didn't really know about his past. Wouldn't you want to make sure you weren't naming a park after a criminal ... especially a pedophile? For instance, I thought we had streets in many cities in the U.S. named for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and not for Charles Manson for a reason?
I'm sure the guy isn't EVIL, but just because he can afford to donate thousands of bucks to a city doesn't mean he should have the landmarks named for him. And even if it's an act of trying to redeem himself for his past -- which, judging from the quote, it doesn't appear to be -- should he be awarded that redemption? I'm gonna go with no.
Do you think the town of Amherstburg should follow through with naming the baseball diamond score clock and street after Jim Massen?
Image via kthypryn/Flickr