I feel for the mother of the minor 16 year old girl accusing Baptist Pastor, Norman Willacey, of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with her child, a student under his tutelage and guidance for years at the Belmopan Baptist High School. She has appealed to all the people in authority she believes can help her seek justice but sadly, it’s been slow in coming. As of right now, the Baptist Church still hasn’t made a decision despite the mountain of evidence piled against him, including his own strange confession.
What I have an issue with is the proposal to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18. I believe that this is not the issue which needs to be confronted, not now, not ever. This is a knee jerk action designed to put a mother’s feelings of frustration and helplessness to rest. It is a move that, if pursued, will only create a false sense of security for parents because the truth is, predators don’t give a damn about laws. They will do the do no matter what. What will happen is you are going to criminalize the normal behaviour of young girls and boys who are experimenting with their sexuality all the while ignoring the real problem we face: abuse of power by people in authority.
This case is not about the sexual relationship between the pastor and the young girl. That is actually the symptom of a much larger, more entrenched societal attitude towards women and others deemed “less than”. It is about the power differential that exists between anyone who has any sort of authority over another: employer vs employee; minister vs voter; pastor vs believer; parent vs child; teacher vs student; adult vs minor. When circumstances create an imbalance of power, it is imperative that the person with perceived power exercise extreme caution NOT to abuse it. In other words, he/she must behave in an ethical manner so as to not exploit someone perceived to be the more vulnerable in the relationship.
How would changing the age of consent do anything about any of that? We need to understand that this is not about sex at all. It is about an adult abusing trust that was placed in his authority and position in the community. He didn’t only hurt this girl and her family, he hurt everyone who ever sought his guidance and revered his intentions. What we need are better sexual harassment laws period.
Please don’t jump on this bandwagon. I apologize to mom in advance but I firmly stand by this assertion.