Victim of molestation urges elected officials to support HB2

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Mrs. Simmons addresses the Elizabeth City Council.

Mrs. Simmons addresses the Elizabeth City Council.

ELIZABETH CITY – This week, the City Council heard a personal story of horror from a local resident, who told of sexual abuse committed upon her by a family member more than 50 years ago.

She came out of the closet in 1989 after being sexually molested at the age of 18. The cover-up lasted for more than 30 years. The abuse took place in family bathrooms, scores of times and when she brought it to the attention of her family, she was ordered not to tell anyone.

Her church looked the other way and her government chose not to investigate. However, eventually the predator was investigated in Caroline County, Maryland and he pled guilty with much of the testimony being sealed by the court.

She asked the City Council to support the core concerns expressed in North Carolina state legislation known as HB2. This bill like all bills is flawed. But the basic premise needs to be protected, she said.

The HB2 legislation is not about transgender people, according to Mrs. Simmons. For those people who have gender reassignment surgery, they are able to obtain a new birth certificate reflecting their new gender identity and use the bathroom that reflects their new gender.

For her, as a young teen, the public bathroom was a place of safety. It took away the molester’s ability to follow her to the bathroom. Now, that safety has been removed, she said. Mrs. Simmons is of the opinion, at best, that it is naïve to believe that people who will violate sexual boundaries will not take advantage of this new opportunity.

At worst, she said, it is a callous disregard to the victims of rape and sexual molestation by declaring ‘open season’ to hunters or predators. It has been more than 50 years since she was abused, yet little has changed. Her family does not want her to expose this abuse and, in fact, the last letter she received from her 88-year-old mother (before the woman’s death in 2004) reminded her not to tell of this experience.

Even now, her husband — who is a retired Methodist minister – acknowledges that the church’s Bishops are speaking out against this much needed HB2 legislation.

She asked the City Council to lend their support in favor of the HB2 bill, citing statistics of the numbers of molestations that take place each year and the number of victims right here in Elizabeth City who may be affected one way or the other.