The Standards of a Stand-up Guy

Richard McCarthy’s 4-year-old son received oral sex on numerous occasions from a 5-year-old female classmate at First Lutheran Church of Carson School. McCarthy’s son wasn’t the only one, and it didn’t just happen on the playground.

The school was cited for a lack of classroom supervision and an inappropriate teacher-to-student ratio. The given reason for the school’s sudden closure is being called a lie, and parents are beside themselves with anger. The Department of Child Protective Services is all over the situation, a lawsuit is about to be launched, blah, blah, blah. That’s the stuff we can set our watches by.

And McCarthy’s a man we can set our admiration on. 

Look, there’s facing facts and confronting possibilities, and then there’s dealing with truly horrifying circumstances head on–and publicly–as an example to others of the strength of character that can really be achieved. McCarthy, at a level of disillusionment and despondency few of us can fathom, exhibited astonishing human capital.

On camera, to a local news reporter, he shared that his son had described what the girl did to him and another boy. He added that, though neither child could process the feelings the girl had introduced them to, they both knew they wanted more.

Fighting back tears, McCarthy said of the boys, “They’re still looking for it and trying to make it happen.”

Can you imagine the Herculean strength it took for this father to essentially tell the viewing audience that he’s witnessing the cycle of child molestation in real time, in his own young son? And yet his concern is wholeheartedly with the public, with the safety of other little boys and girls. “There’s no way I can just take him to another school,” confesses the father, “and be that parent who lets a predator loose.”

Holy crap! In a single sentence the guy raises and accepts the possibility that his son might be a potential predator, and acknowledges that he can’t risk sending him into a new school. “How else do you explain it?” he replies, when the reporter asks if he really thinks of his son this way. Man, that’s heavy. And damn, that dude’s brave!

Perhaps because he’s completely depleted of energy and emotionally gutted, McCarthy doesn’t ever shake his fists or yell. Absent is the my-son-could-never-do-that indignation, and the sense of entitlement that often discredits parents when they act as if their “property” has been damaged.

Maybe it’s just that the man is one of those rare, emotionally intelligent people, capable of processing difficult feelings despite having neither answers nor control. How many of us, if put in this position, would immediately demand payback? Fearful of appearing to lack a sense of duty, how many of us would shout a claim of vengeance to anyone willing to listen, let alone jabber about to it an indifferent reporter?

It’s obvious McCarthy is heartbroken and that he loves his boy–describing at one point how he assured his son that he wasn’t in trouble for what we could suspect are early behavioral indicators of sexual abuse. But he admits he doesn’t know what to do.

It seems to me, by McCarthy’s refusal to condemn the parents of the girl or talk up the impending lawsuit, that he’s focusing on the problem at hand and leaving the rest to  lawyers and other parents. His selflessness–even his willingness to face the possibility that his son might turn and inflict the same damage elsewhere–is remarkable. McCarthy is a real example of someone taking a responsible and pragmatic approach to an emotionally apocalyptic event.

It would be easy to suggest that he’s playing up the victim role in order to cash in on the lawsuit, but I prefer to see this as a personal bar to reach for, rather than something to point fingers at and be suspicious of.

For days now, I’ve been affected by the character this demonstrates, especially compared to what’s being demonstrated by others. Thanks to Richard McCarthy, his son has a good shot at recovery. He also is likely to live a life less dominated by confusion and personal excuses than by the standards of a stand-up guy.

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2 Responses to “The Standards of a Stand-up Guy”

  1. D.West says:

    I have a wait and see policy with stuff like this, but I appreciate your approach.


  2. Al Lyons says:

    Amazing Dad and person. Can’t wait to see the “Law And Order-SVU” version of this story.

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