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Last week, former Trinity High School teacher Donald Switzer was found not guilty of charges of sexual abuse and physical harassment brought by a former student. But despite that verdict, an air of suspicion and doubt will surely surround Mr. Switzer as long as he remains a member of this community.
And that's too bad.
Regardless of "not guilty" verdicts, accusations alone have the power to taint a person's reputation. And once allegations are publicly made – no matter how unfounded they may be – no "magic wand" can erase them from the public consciousness. Even though he was cleared in a court of law – and has 39 years of experience -- I'll be surprised if there's any rush by anyone to offer Mr. Switzer another teaching job.
There's no question we, as a society, have the duty to protect our young people from exploitation or abuse by adults in positions of trust.
But in this day and age – when it's so pitifully easy to destroy someone's reputation with the merest suggestion of wrongdoing -- don't we also have a duty to protect innocent people from false accusers?
A charge of sexual abuse is a bell you can't unring. That's why we must be judicious not only in making such accusations in the first place, but also in deciding when they're worthy of prosecution.
Call and tell us what you think about the Switzer case.