If It Smells In Public, It’s Probably Rotten In Private

by admin on March 31, 2014

Let me relay what happened at a Confirmation I attended in the spring of 2013.

For those who do not know, a Confirmation is when someone (in this case, a 13 year old girl), acknowledges their beliefs in the Catholic Church. It consists of a ceremony at Church, followed by a lunch/dinner/party etc.

My fiancé and I (now husband) attended the Confirmation for a girl named “Jane”, whose parents and grandparents are family friends of my in-laws. To give a little background, Jane comes from a family where family members believe in incest – her grandparents were originally uncle and niece and decided to get married, and cousins marry each other etc. (This is important later).

Anyway, the ceremony at the Church was nice, and it was followed by a dinner and some dancing at a local banquet hall. After dinner, Jane’s uncle, who is a DJ, played some music, and everyone was pretty much having a good time. That is, until, another one of Jane’s uncle’s and her male cousin called her up to the dance floor.

A chair was placed in the middle, and she was forced to sit on the chair. All of a sudden, a song began to play, and Jane’s uncle and cousin proceeded to give her a lap dance and grind her, right on the dance floor and right in the middle of everyone! I looked around; a few people were as horrified as I was, but Jane’s family seemed to think it was very funny, and applauded and cheered and laughed. Her uncle and cousin took off their shirts, belts, and nearly exposed themselves to her (and everyone!) in the room. Did I mention that there were children and elderly people at this party? Being forced to watch this was bad enough, but the fact that they were all family made it even more creepy!

Poor Jane just had her eyes covered with her hands, and was asking her uncle and cousin to stop. She was clearly embarrassed, and I felt really bad for her. Mercifully, the song ended. Only Jane’s family cheered and laughed, while the rest of us were totally and utterly miffed by what had just happened. I looked around for Jane’s mom, who was nowhere to be found. People who were not family had to pick their jaws up off the floor, and try resume to whatever it was they were doing before the “show”.

A little later, Jane decided to entertain everyone with a song she wanted to sing. I cannot remember the name, but she sang it a capella, and everyone cheered for her, as it takes a lot of courage to do something like that in front of a crowd. When she finished, just as everyone was about to applaud, her cousin, who gave her a lap-dance and grinded her on the dance floor, shouted out: “Take off your dress,” to poor Jane. The room fell silent, except for Jane’s family, who laughed and cheered.

That was my first time attending a Confirmation. When I tell this story to people, they look just as horrified as I did when I witnessed it, and I can honestly say that that party was the most bizarre I have ever attended. 0328-14

This family’s behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with a Catholic Confirmation. The event is merely the stage upon which their collective lack of decency and kindness is displayed.

When you witness behavior of this nature, it means the consciences of the family has been seared and they no longer recognize what is unacceptable talk and behavior.   If their inhibitions are so low that this type of behavior towards a 13 year old female of the family is acted out in a public place amongst neighbors, friends, etc., imagine what happens in private.    I remember years ago watching a few episodes of the game show “The Price Is Right” and being appalled at Bob Barker, not once but twice, tell a winning audience member (women) to take off her clothes.   It came as no surprise then when Barker was sued by a former “Barker’s Beauties” and two production assistants for sexual harassment.    If something stinks in public, it’s doubly rotten in private.

If we were to witness a 13 year old girl getting slapped by her uncle and cousin, there would be no question what most of us would do to intervene. Yet when it involves sexual victimization of a 13 year old girl, most people freeze in confusion as to what to do as evidenced by the reaction of the guests to this.   This is a THIRTEEN YEAR OLD GIRL….it’s not a 19 year old Miley Cyrus getting twerked by Robin Thicke.   We freeze hoping a responsible adult (like Mom or Dad) will step in and stop it and the seconds tick by as the debacle continues.   Instead of jaws scraping the floor, why did guests not start booing the “dancers” to counter the cheering of the family?  I’ve turned my back in protest to overly sexualized wedding reception “games” between consenting adults but faced with the OP’s dilemma, would I have the presence of mind to think on my feet to find some clever resolution to this?

After ascertaining that neither the child’s father or mother was in the vicinity and knew what was happening, I would probably walk to the child in her chair with me in between her and the men, take her hand, tell her her mother wishes to see her and lead her away to my group of friends/family who would close ranks around her.   I can’t stop the men but I could intervene to remove her from the situation.  I’m old enough to handle pervy men and take the boos her relatives may vocalize.  And if they wanted to escalate, I can threaten to call the police and have the family explain why a 13 yar old child has been placed in this sexually harassing predicament.

 

{ 135 comments… read them below or add one }

AnnaMontana March 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm

This is so far from an etiquette issue, there are no words to describe the distance!
Frankly, this seems like grooming or child abuse and should be reported. Every person should be thoroughly investigated ASAP and checked. Marriage to cousins is legal (providing the blood work comes back clean) in my country, but the biggest issue I have is niece and uncle? Seriously, did the guy marry his own daughter or were they opposite sides of the family? Either way it’s a bit sick…..
Report it, even if it was last year or 6 years ago OP. That poor little girl, no matter how old, should NOT be subjected to abuse on this scale. (Lets face it, what people do in private is usually ‘sanitized’ in public).
Is there any way you can get her on her own? Take her out for tea or something, talk to her about it and call the police, CPS, Social Services whoever! Hell even calling the local authority will help, they will direct you to the right people.
If you can’t get the girl to talk to you, or she isn’t allowed or whatever see if you/your parents (if I read this right, your parents are friends of her grandparents or similar?) can slip her the number/address for the local NSPCC, Barnardos, Save the Children or whatever local charities you have.
Hope that you find the courage to speak out!

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Enna April 3, 2014 at 12:07 pm

What happens if two unrealted people who are carriers of certain conditions want to marry? I think the OP meant that the grandfather married his niece the grandmother so as I posted, one parent is going to have a mother/cousin and a father/great unlce. If they are from oppisite of the family e.g. if my maternal uncle marries my paternal cousin it might be a bit strange but they are not related by blood sort of in laws marrying e.g. niece in law and uncle in law rather than biological neice and biological uncle.

What has happened is so wrong.

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LizaJane March 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm

I call Shenanigans. There is soooo much wrong with this besides the obvious. Other religions confirm at or about age 13. Methodist, for one. I live in an area with LOTS of Catholics, and NO WAY is this happening. These people had a banquet hall full of people and still did this?
Not one single person did anything? And the OP stood there and watched intently enough to give a detailed description?
IF this IS true, the OP should be to ashamed to tell it.

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LizaJane March 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm

and where was the priest?

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Sammy April 1, 2014 at 12:55 am

Not to sound terrible, but being a member of religious group does not guarantee the person is not terrible monster. I think I don’t need to further mention the Catholic priests getting trouble with… inappropriate actions with children. Monsters exists in every group. As for the priest, it’s true that I don’t know how Catholic Confirmation goes, but at least with Lutherans the priest does not attend the after celebrations.

But as many have mentioned, “freezing” is quite common for humans in totally surprising situations.

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AIP April 1, 2014 at 2:36 am

Why would the (or indeed any) priest be there? This was a party after the Confirmation, doubtless one of dozens in that part of the diocese that day.

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Lilya April 1, 2014 at 3:15 am

This happened at the party, not in Church: he probably wasn’t invited – and even if they had invited him, I doubt he’s be able to come.

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Alethia April 1, 2014 at 3:57 am

1) Well, yeah… Confirmation is more of a Christianity thing rather than a just-Catholic thing (with some other religions doing their own Confirmation-named ceremonies that are in no way linked to the Christian one), so Methodists and other flavours of Christian branches do it as well. Not all, but a lot, and the age *does* vary between branches of Christianity. Some do it when the person is ready to be confirmed, some (like the Catholic churches I’m familiar with) tend to do it at a particular age or age group (my agre group for the parish was confirmed all at once at the end of 8th grade, for example, in a big ceremony), etc. It depends more on the area’s culture and individual church’s background. :)

2) The fact that the banquet hall full of people did nothing isn’t that hard to believe, actually. As someone mentioned in an earlier comment, the Bystander Effect pretty much makes people expect *others* to do something. (sidenote: It’s also why, if you notice a fire, get attacked, or are experiencing another emergency and need help on a busy street, it’s better to individually call out people to help, rather than just scream “Help!”) Pretty much, if there was a large group of people, psychologically speaking whatever happens gets subconsciously delegated to be someone else’s problem to take care of first. This gets exacerbated when there’s others in the crowd (such as the poor girl’s family) who approve of whatever is happening. Mob mentality also comes from this fact; if something happens, there’s a good chance you (the general “you”, not you specifically) will go along with it in order to not stand out. This happens in other things, too, like bullying, riots, etc.

3) The priest (and Bishop, since that’s who carries out the most likely wouldn’t have been there in any case, since it was the celebration *after* the Confirmation took place, at a banquet hall and not the Church. Especially if it was like my Confirmation that I mentioned above; the Bishop and attending priests couldn’t personally be at the family parties of 3 CCD classes and 2 Catholic school classes worth of students who all got confirmed at once (maybe 70 kids total), so… :)

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Alethia April 1, 2014 at 4:04 am

Oops, left out a bit of phrase there in the third one:

* (And diocese’s Bishop, since that’s who carries out the Confirmation sacrament in the Catholic Church, when possible)

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just4kicks April 1, 2014 at 4:03 am

As a life long Catholic whose faith in the church has diminished significantly due to all the pedophilia scandals, I can think of a few snarky replies to your question….but I won’t say them. If I want to jokingly rile up my mom I say I’m “a recovering Catholic”. :)

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just4kicks April 1, 2014 at 4:05 am

No offense to anyone of any religion….

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LizaJane March 31, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Everyone was “miffed” ?

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Amara March 31, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I would like to think I would have intervened, but if faced with that horror I can’t say for sure I would not have frozen. I would hope not. However, I would make up for it now. OP, please call Child Protective Services immediately. You (and others who were equally horrified) should involve yourself now. And if you are willing please let us know that you did. I feel very sick.

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The Elf April 1, 2014 at 7:09 am

I agree. Freezing at the time is understandable, though I’m sure we all would like to think we’d intervene. But the important thing is to not let it go now, after the fact, after you’ve recovered from the shock of seeing something like that.

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JGM1764 April 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I’m ashamed to say I probably also would have frozen in shock. I like to think that when I regained my bearings I’d call the police and CPS as soon as I could. There were certainly a lot of witnesses.

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Library Diva March 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

This is not an etiquette matter. I’m shocked at this family’s behavior. At the worst, this girl is being pressured into sex with family members. At best, her family is sending her a message that she’s public property and that her only worth is as a sexual object — not as a member of her faith community, not as a singer, she’s just a body. The whole thing is disturbing and sad.

I’m an agnostic atheist whose mother was raised Catholic. Her whole side of the family stayed faithful, though, so I’ve attended my share of First Communion and Confirmation celebrations. I can echo that this is NOT normal practice, for Catholics or for virtually anyone else in the 20th century. The wildest thing I ever witnessed or took part in during a First Communion or Confirmation celebration was when I snuck out with a whole bunch of my cousins to walk down the street to where they were building the new subdivision…yes, despite many warnings to the contrary and in blatant violation of the “no trespassing” signs, we walked down there and looked at the muddy pits that were going to be foundations to new homes. We. Are. Rebels!!!!!!

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Lindsay March 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm

OP- Thank you for sharing this. I know everyone is posting about their resolve and what they would have done. Well. Shamefully, if I was caught in the moment, I would probably have been a deer in headlights. I would have done nothing, and driven home FURIOUS the entire way thinking of things I should have done or said. Shaking my tiny ineffectual fists, and never really knowing what that girls like is like and if anyone ever stood up for her. Let her know that she didn’t deserve that behavior. That it was not okay.

Now that you have shared this, and I have read it- Well, I’ve put some thought into it. If ever confronted with a similar situation, I think that, because of your post, I will be better prepared to react instead of just stand by. Further, based on the comments in this article, I know I would be in the right by doing so.

You were faced with a very difficult situation. Thank you for sharing. Hopefully, you have given not just me, but everyone who reads this, a little time to reflect, and hopefully the energy to act, should they ever come across a similar situation.

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Glitter March 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I want to shower. And also call the authorities.

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Yankeegal77 April 6, 2014 at 7:29 am

My reaction EXACTLY.

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MichelleP March 31, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for the follow up post admin. I’m afraid I would have been so shocked that I wouldn’t have been able to think clearly either. Calls to the police or CPS may help, may not. I know other posters mean well when they suggest spending time with Jane and finding out, and even offering a home for her, but that is very unlikely to work and will most likely lead to trouble.

Admin was spot on. I would avoid these people, and make an anonymous call to CPS later with as many details as possible.

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Bibianne March 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm

I am still trying to pick my jaw off the floor.

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Daphne March 31, 2014 at 2:56 pm

You really do need to call CPS right away.

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moll March 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I’m glad you shared this story. I know that it’s very easy to say what you would have done and a lot harder to DO IT when in the moment – look how we still talk about the Kitty Genovese story. But sharing stories like this, and discussing what could have been done, helps more of us get mental game plans in place for when we’re in situations where we see something that’s not right happening in public. It’s so easy and human to freeze up.

OP, don’t be too hard on yourself for not knowing how to react, but please take action now. I know it’s hard because most reports to CPS end up going nowhere, but at least it will be on file. She’s still only 13 or 14 and has a lot of time left with this awful family.

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Marozia March 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

OMG, that’s totally disgusting!!!
Anonymity is best when dealing with CPS.

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Cecilia March 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

This is one of the most disgusting things I have ever read. I did an internship at the local children & families agency when I was in high school and it’s amazing what people who are supposed to be “family” do to each other. It’s infuriating to think that a grown man (the uncle) and this cousin thought “hey, it’s Jane’s confirmation party, let’s do the bump n’ grind lap dance, it’ll be awesome”. The fact that her family was cool with it and cheered is even more infuriating. I wouldn’t be shocked if the family forced her to marry her uncle because if the grandparents did it, then it’s good enough for Jane.

I pray that I would have done something to help her if I were there, but I don’t know that I would. I hope that since I stand up for myself and don’t allow people to treat me that way and the training I received at DCFS would compel me to act but I would probably just be so shocked that I did nothing. Maybe I would call police or another agency later when I had regained my senses but I can’t say for sure.

If OP’s fiance and in-laws were shocked at this, why would they want to remain friends with people who would do such a thing to a child? Baffling.

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The Elf April 1, 2014 at 7:16 am

You know, I could almost see something like the lap dance happening – with some boisterous families – late in a wedding reception. You know, with the *adult* bride. After all, escorting the marital couple to bed used to be a tradition! But with a girl? After a confirmation? No – that’s horrific.

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Cecilia April 1, 2014 at 12:04 pm

I really don’t understand how a grown man would think it’s ok to shake his junk in the face of a 13 year old child EVER, but especially after a religious ceremony. It’s just so … gross.

As you mentioned, when it’s adults, like husband & wife, it’s different. I think a good number of adult females would walk away or push the man away if she didn’t want to participate but I’m sure that was not an option for this child.

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Cecilia April 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm

I don’t understand why this family thought lap dancing/grinding was an acceptable dance to perform at a confirmation party, especially forced on a 13 year old child.

I don’t understand the uncle/niece marriage thing and how that could possibly be legal.

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Marozia April 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm

It probably was back when grandma/granddad got married. Or maybe they were half niece/uncle. Some cultures believe it’s OK as it keeps the inheritance in the family.
Too risky!

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The TARDIS March 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Whether or not this is true doesn’t matter to me. I’m still appalled that anyone would act so disrespectfully during a celebration of something religious.

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JackieJormpJomp April 2, 2014 at 8:29 am

Uh, this would be awful even if the celebration were not religious. Let’s not pretend the religious of the world are any “better” than the rest and are automatically of better standards.

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DGS March 31, 2014 at 4:00 pm

@Sherri,
I belong to a Conservative synagogue, and I have to two others in the past- confirmation has always been part of religious education at those institutions.

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Amy March 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I just have to ask….. they weren’t Travellers were they? I could see this being a strange form of grabbing. Then again if the family were the stereotypical Travellers it would be pretty obvious.

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AIP April 1, 2014 at 2:43 am

Regardless of what “My Big Fat Gypsy anything” says, “grabbing” is not the norm in Traveller culture. The Travellers of my acquaintance were appalled by this and called it what it was – sexual assault. I don’t know any Gypsies (who are NOT the same, again regardless of the conflation by the media), but I wouldn’t say it would be that common in that culture either.

As for case relations marrying, marriage between cousins is high in Traveler culture, but Pavee Point says that it’s changing, primarily because social media is allowing Travellers to meet others outside the clan. But I don’t see any priest agreeing to marry a man and his niece, and the opinion of the church would’ve been important to Travellers of the grandparents’ generation.

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Weaver April 2, 2014 at 11:01 am

Not really relevant to the original post, but I have to agree with AIP here. We get plenty of travellers in our area, and I’ve been on friendly terms with a few in the past. The behaviour described in the original post would be as repugnant and inappropriate to them as it would be to any decent person.

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Michele K. March 31, 2014 at 5:29 pm

0.0 (picking my jaw up from the floor)

To the OP, if you have not done so at this point, contact CPS about this family. I am not one for reporting just anything to them, but this one is a clear case of wrong done to a child. If that was done in public, only the diety knows, what happens in private.

I think it’s etiquette that stops many people from intervening at times like this. They don’t want to disrupt the party. They don’t want to be impolite to their inlaws’ friends. They don’t want to be rude to their hosts. This makes them hesitate to do what in normal circumstances should be obvious. Sticking with the crowd, by not doing anything, is always easier than standing out from the crowd and doing what was the right thing to do (intervene on behalf of a 13 year old girl).

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Stacey Frith-Smith March 31, 2014 at 5:44 pm

This isn’t an etiquette issue so much as a criminal offense. Unwanted sexual touch is criminal. Directed towards a child, it’s heinous. The back story of the marriage between a niece and uncle or the fact that it happened at a party celebrating a confirmation are irrelevant. I hope the OP will follow up with some phone calls to those who can actually help this child. And good for you, Admin, for being willing to remove a child from the scene of clear harm!

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JO March 31, 2014 at 5:48 pm

This is simply revolting. The fact that, as admin said, this in no way reflects the Catholic faith, is the least of my concerns. Contact the police and your local child protection agency. It is entirely possible that this may not be enough for them to take action (I don’t like saying that, as that poor girl clearly is not safe with those relatives) but it will at least get this family on their radar. And hopefully someone will have a conversation with her trying to discern whether anything more sinister really is going on.

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Yellow Rose March 31, 2014 at 6:55 pm

The OP said her parents were friends with the grandparents? I wonder if they have maintained the friendship after this vile revelation of what their friends are like?

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michelle March 31, 2014 at 7:02 pm

What the family believes is acceptable is irrelevant. This is called sexual abuse/child abuse. The authoritative need to be notified so that they can help the child and have her removed from teh family before she ends being raped. She does not have a say in this matter. The adults in this situation are pedophile and abusers. They are telling people and her that this is normal so that they can get away with abusing her and other children.

How would you feel if you were told that a teacher did this to a child at school or if someone had done this to your child? If anyone knows this child PLEASE HELP HER.

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lakey March 31, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Believe me, if a priest ever witnessed a disgusting display like this in connection with a sacrament all hell would break loose. And yes, I know that this was the party after the Confirmation, but the purpose of this party was supposed to be to celebrate a sacrament. Of course this kind of behavior around a 13 year old girl is disgusting regardless.

There’s something seriously wrong with these people. If and when you have children, don’t let any of them around your children unsupervised.

I feel that we don’t want to turn events into screaming matches by criticizing behavior at the event, however, you can quietly leave. Maybe if enough people simply leave, the creeps will get the message that their behavior is unacceptable.

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lakey March 31, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Also, I can see where a person would sit through this in shock, and not say anything. When something happens that is this out of the ordinary, we tend to be shocked to the point where we don’t respond at all.
Afterwards, you tend to think about what you should have said or done.

An example in my life was a time when I was out walking with a neighbor and she started using the N Word slur quite loudly. All I did was to say “I can’t handle this, ” and I walked as fast as I could to get away.
It wasn’t until later that I thought of all the ways I could have handled it more effectively. Most of us, in an ugly situation like the OP’s aren’t that clear headed.

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sillyme March 31, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Call DCF, DCS, CPS … whatever it’s called. She was sexually harassed by adults. Emotionally abused. End of story. And if they had those few inhibitions in public ….

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NostalgicGal March 31, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Again, not even going to read 86 comments.

I would have gotten out the cellphone, recorded it if I could not STOP it, and promptly called the authorities.

Social services and the police would have been there in a time warp if possible.

I do hope that someone HAS staged an intervention for Jane; and gotten her into safe haven and some help… and that every other one of the clan’s under aged have been removed as well.

Surely with enough witnesses, there should be enough evidence to invervene immediately.

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Lenore April 1, 2014 at 6:32 am

For those throwing shade at the OP for not doing anything, there is a well known phenomenon called “The Bystander Effect” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect . Again, I would have taped the incident, as that would be actual evidence in any investigation and legal action taken against that family. Sometimes the best intervention is the kind that has great evidence to help the victim, rather than a knee-jerk response that could allow the perpetrators to cover up or taint evidence.

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Mouse April 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

The OP’s in-laws are friends with these people? Have there been other examples of inappropriate behavior from Jane’s family in the past? How well do the OP and her in-laws know them? It’s possible that this is the first time they saw this disgusting behavior on display. If so, that may be yet another reason the OP froze: Maybe she never knew or suspected what this family was really like. (I’m just speculating, here.)

Which parent married into this family of creepers? The mother or the father? I find it odd that the mother suddenly disappeared when Jane’s relatives began assaulting and harassing her.

OP, please, please, PLEASE call CPS on this horrible family.

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InTheEther April 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Cops.

Calling the cops at the time would have been better but get your butt on the phone right now and make sure child services is aware.

Unfortunately in my neck of the woods it is depressingly easy to come across a whole family who is completely fubar. Personally, I’ve never come across a situation where I was aware of any activities that were downright illegal, so the only thing you can really do is hope any children can recognize how f’ed up their family is and that they high-tail it away ASAP. (I feel I should note at this point that I don’t think it’s a light or easy thing to tear a kid away from all the family they have ever known. Sadly, I also know that there are some family situations that are downright toxic and sometimes bailing (by the kid in question or forcefully by the government) is in said kid’s best interest.)

As per the situation in question, the episode is SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A MINOR!!! I’m not over exaggerating, you get a cop and a prosecutor and that is what at least the uncle will be charged with. I’m assuming from the description that at least the uncle was a full grown adult, and the male cousin will probably be right beside him in the defendant stand. Sexual assault includes any sexual contact (a lap dance counts, especially a full naked one) that is not wished by the assaultee and the federal gov considers it automatically against her wishes when the assaultee is underage and the assaulter is an adult.

I agree with some posters that the sheer WTF and shock of the situation (along with the unfortunate tendency of humans to want to stick with the crowd) means that speaking out at the time was difficult. Seriously though, if they think that is cool in public I don’t want to know what they think is cool in private. Inform CPS!

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Rap April 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Not to be cynical about the police or the law, but I doubt, as described, that this incident on its own would have gotten anyone arrested for sexual assault, let alone prosecuted and jailed. This was not a “full naked” lapdance…. or rather, if the OP and numerous other adults watched two men strip down naked and grind their naked bare genitals onto a 13 year old girl, then there’s a lot more wrong with that crowd than “the bystander effect”

What you do have is two guys who did something pretty offensive in front of a crowd that did nothing and said nothing and its a party (and I wondered how much alcohol was involved) and if the cops came, they’d probably apologize to the girl, and the parents who fully approved of the dancing would insist it was no big deal and so would the girl because she doesn’t want to get anyone in trouble. I’m sorry, you’re not going to get a sexual assault arrest out of this. You might get a CPS investigation but if this is the only incident… odds are it wouldn’t go far

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Dee April 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm

I agree. Everyone here is shocked and offended and it’s understandable, I think it’s disgusting and wrong myself. but sexual assaults are so rarely prosecuted as it is, this is not a case that would go anywhere except CPS. And even then, CPS will do everything possible to ensure a family stays together. Those of you saying the girl should be immediately removed from the home… well that’s incredibly unlikely and a fairly knee-jerk reaction considering we don’t know anything about the parents.

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Mouse April 3, 2014 at 8:40 am

At least it will set up a paper trail for these people. CPS will have them on file.

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Weaver April 2, 2014 at 8:22 am

OP, I don’t judge you at all for not acting at the time you witnessed this event. Things like this are so shocking and so outside our experience as decent human beings, that it’s a natural reaction to freeze or not know what to do, especially when there are so many other people around.

But please, please, report this to every relevant authority that you can, right away. That this happened a year ago doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter what relationship you had at the time, or have now, with any of the parties involved. There are ways to report things like this anonymously if you prefer.

Again, please don’t feel guilty for only witnessing these events at the time – I can’t honestly say that I would have done any different in your situation. But you have a chance now to play a part in potentially saving this child, and any other children in that awful family, from further abuse and cruelty. Have courage, and the very best of luck to you.

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SV April 2, 2014 at 8:59 am

I felt ill reading this, in a large part because I don’t know how I would have reacted to the situation. It’s easy to look back in retrospect and say ” That was wrong!!” but at the time I think I would have froze, waiting for the punchline or for it to all suddenly make sense and be okay. Call protective services, OP, and let them sort it out. What an awful situation.

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Mouse April 2, 2014 at 9:52 am

I agree. OP, don’t beat yourself up. Sounds like everyone who wasn’t family was stunned into silence. I probably would’ve reacted the same way. It’s a natural reaction: “Huh? A LAP DANCE? This is a joke, right? It’s NOT a joke? Hello! Parents, where are you?”

It’s telling that Jane begged her uncle and cousin to stop. We don’t know what goes on at home, but she knows that this behavior is inappropriate.

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Yankeegal77 April 6, 2014 at 8:18 am

Sounds like you were shocked, OP, and while I would likely have frozen in the moment, you can bet I’d have called CPS or another abuse hotline immediately after. Or during the party, asking law enforcement to meet the family at the door on their way out to avoid any retribution on Jane later. What a horrible, sickening chain of events. Disgusting.

I know there is a lot of discussion about who-married-whom, but regardless of if the grandma married her uncle and cousins married…even if this were a family with nary a marriage/consanguinity question in sight, I’d still want to vomit, shower in bleach, then vomit again. My family tree has a Quebecois branch, where marrying one’s cousin was permissible long ago, especially in rural areas. While a couple of cousins did marry, rest assured that our entire, largely Catholic family is fully cognizant of child abuse, sexual harassment of a minor and pedophilia and do indeed frown upon it. As would the cousins who married and have been/were upstanding pillars of their community and respected by family, friends and business associates alike. Marrying one’s cousin doesn’t make one a pedophile or otherwise a pervert.

Also regarding Canon Law, just because there is a law in place, it doesn’t mean that a Catholic will know about it or even care. Unless I missed a part of the story because my head was spinning, it’s possible the grandmother and her uncle were married outside of the church, or in another town, or at a courthouse. Heck, maybe they were common law. (My grandmother is Catholic, my grandfather was a non-practicing Baptist and they couldn’t have a church wedding, so they found another way.) Either way, just because there is a rule in place, regardless of when it was made less-archaic, it doesn’t negate any veracity of the story.

To previous posters assuring this isn’t what happens during a Catholic Confirmation: I don’t think anyone believes this is part of the rite of passage. The OP likely added this as part of the setting (as does everyone) and to add this parallel.

But to the point of this story: the most horrifying thought of this recollection isn’t just the poor girl’s humiliation and harassment; rather, that a hall full of shocked adults **did nothing.** I sure hope *someone* called social services!

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