On Monday night the West Branch-Rose City school board voted not to fire a group of teachers who spoke out against the 15- to 30-year sentence a fellow teacher, Neal Erickson, received after molesting an eighth-grade boy.
“We believe the letters written by the teachers may be protected under First Amendment rights and that any disciplinary action will subject us to expensive, and potentially lengthy, lawsuits,” board President Jack Money read in a statement announcing the decision.
The victim’s mother, Lori Janczewski, told Glenn Beck on radio Tuesday that she actually could have lived with the knowledge that the teachers were still, ostensibly, caring for and 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…”
Janczewski said when their son was around 13-years-old, when the molestation happened, their household became a “living hell,” and they had no idea why.
But they now know that on top of the sexual abuse, Erickson threatened their son that if he “said anything,” Janczewski would lose her job. Janczewski worked in special education at same school as Erickson — and worked with the teachers who wrote letters of leniency for her son’s molester — adding: “At that time my husband was unemployed, so I was the only income. That’s a lot for a 13-year-old to take in and handle.”
“If he [wasn’t] affected by this at all…then why did [Neal Erickson] have to say, ‘You tell anybody and your parents are going to lose their job,'” Beck demanded in response to the teachers’ argument. “Why did he have to threaten them? What is wrong with us?”
Janczewski said roughly 300 people came to the meeting Monday night, and there are about 2,000 students in the district.
She added that they “didn’t even listen” to what her 16-year-old daughter had to say, but during Erickson’s sentencing, a number of teachers and a member of the school board “walked past” them and went to sit with Erickson’s wife, without saying a word.
Beck and his co-hosts expressed shock that Erickson still has a wife, and were even more stunned to learn that she begged for mercy on Erickson’s behalf so her 6-year-old would still have a father.
“She wants this guy living in the house with her daughter who is six?” Beck asked.
Janczewski also gave more information about Erickson, saying he gave her son alcohol and “told him it was pop” years before the molestation, and it now looks like he was “grooming” him.
But one of the teachers wrote in her letter: “Neal has plead (sic) guilty for his one criminal offense but he is not a predator…This was an isolated incident. He understands the severity of his action and is sincere in his desire to make amends…”
Beck and Janczewski also discussed “the continual nightmare” of threats and attacks that have occurred since they started speaking out about the teachers. Beck said his charity Mercury One will help rebuild their garage — which was set on fire in the middle of the night and could have killed them all if Lori’s husband hadn’t woken up — before adding that the fear of reprisal reminds him of the south in the 1950’s.
“Except it’s the teachers that are the members of the Klan, and it’s the people with power,” Beck added. “Lori, if you ever want to move…I would guarantee we’d have a ton of listeners that would come over and help pack your truck and pack your house and welcome your family into a loving community. I’m not saying that your neighbors aren’t good, but I’m telling you there’s something wrong here…”
“When your town votes to stand with a pedophile, your town has lost its soul,” he said.
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Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rose City, Michigan has unequivocally denied that it posted bail for Neal Erickson.
The church’s congregation council recently issued a statement saying the church did not post the bail, “nor were any church funds used to assist Mr. Erickson.”
“We continue to pray for healing of all that have been affected,” the statement concludes.
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