Richard Berendzen was the President of American University, a prolifically expansive Methodist-founded educational outfit who also, curiously enough, provided the real estate to get the Army Chemical Corps started. Berendzen is a very vivid illustration of the limits of Wikipedia. Here's the Jimmy Wales Project take on Berendzen's near fall from grace:
In 1990, Berendzen resigned as president of American University after a woman who received indecent calls complained to police, who traced the calls to his office. Berendzen received no fine or community service requirements for this misdemeanor charge, but was sentenced to two thirty-day suspended terms and directed to continue therapy. Earlier, he had checked himself into Johns Hopkins Hospital. Three years later he published a book addressing the calls and his experience as a victim of child molestation. Eventually he would return to American University in a teaching role. Many students would rally around him in an effort to support his return to the post of President of the University, but he declined this call.
Indecent, yeah? Let's see how America's Newspaper of Record commemorated this strange moment in academia:
May 24, 1990
RICHARD E. BERENDZEN, who has resigned as president of American University, pleaded guilty yesterday to two misdemeanor charges of making obscene telephone calls from his office. Judge J. CONRAD WATERS JR. of Fairfax County General District Court sentenced Mr. Berendzen to 30 days in jail on each charge. But he suspended the jail time provided that he stays out of trouble for one year.
''I deeply regret all of this,'' Mr. Berendzen, 51 years old, told the judge. During the phone calls, he talked about ''explicit, detailed, gross and graphic sex with adults and children,'' one of the victims said.
A Harvard-educated astronomer, Mr. Berendzen had been president of the university since 1980. He resigned April 8 and has been under psychiatric care.(AP)
Introductions aside, let's cut to the horror movie:
https://medium.com/@LoriHandrahan2/trad ... 197ad4b85d
In 1990, American University’s president, Richard Berendzen, was calling day cares seeking sex with children when he contacted Susan Eva Allen; a mother operating a home-based day care whose husband was a detective with Fairfax County Police Department. A search warrant was obtained.
Susan Allen recorded more than 30 hours of conversation with Berendzen. He asked Susan Allen if “she and her husband included their children in sex” and begged to have sex with Susan Allen’s children. He told her he masturbated while talking with her and offered to procure a child for her to use as a “sex slave.”
He “described going to sex slave auctions in Chicago and Detroit,” bragged about his abuse of children, his child porn collection, the four year old girl who was his “sex slave” and strapping his wife to a wheel in their basement.
Professor Berendzen never spent a day in jail nor has he yet been investigated for child sex crimes.
In what appears to be clear obstruction of justice, American University protected Berendzen, his career and financial security.
Conspiracy to commit child rape and possession of child pornography are not “administrative” issues. These are criminal matters and must be prosecuted as such. There is no statute on limitation for child sex abuse crimes at the federal level. Professor Berendzen could still be and should be subject to investigation.
Most remarkable of all, not only was Berendzen's career not destroyed, it actually continued to improve. His effusively enthusiastic wiki page lists a prolific and very public career:
Two mayors of Washington, D.C. appointed him chairman of the "Commission on the Budget and Financial Priorities of the District of Columbia," an analysis and report to the mayors, the D.C. City Council, and the U.S. Congress. He was an advisor to the chief of police of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.
He has served on numerous boards; e.g., American Astronautical Society, American Association of Colleges, Business Council for International Understanding, Consortium of Universities of Metropolitan Washington Area, Federal City Council, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Points of Light Foundation, Mentors, Inc., Orphan Foundation of America, BlueCross BlueShield of Greater Washington, the Planetary Society.
Berendzen also has directed National Science Foundation and NASA grants and has received awards for outstanding teaching, the most recent in spring 2006 at American University.
Berendzen claimed it was all just talk, and three years later wrote about about himself as a victim in an autobiographical book, "Come Here: A Man Overcomes the Tragic Aftermath of Childhood Sexual Abuse"
Via: http://articles.philly.com/1994-05-15/l ... ornography
At the time, Berendzen couldn't explain anything. What made him call the telephone numbers listed in newspaper ads for day care and ask about sexual behavior with children? Why did he ask one woman if she allowed her children to see her naked? Why did he bring up child pornography, auctions of sex slaves? Why did he claim to keep a 4-year-old girl caged in his basement?
The answers are part of a national discussion about the "cycle" of abuse, and the debate about just how much a person's childhood traumas contribute to - perhaps even mitigate - actions as an adult.
After treatment at the Johns Hopkins sexual disorders clinic in Baltimore, Berendzen blames the phone calls on his failure to deal with the emotional turmoil resulting from abuse he suffered as a child. The doctors linked his behavior to a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, prompted by his father's death and increasing stress in his life.
Berendzen, 56, has written a book about his experiences, Come Here: A Man Overcomes the Tragic Aftermath of Childhood Sexual Abuse, and is making intermittent stops on the speakers' circuit. Late last month, he and his wife, Gail, were in West Chester, speaking to about 100 social workers at a child- sex-abuse conference.
As befits a professor and college president, Berendzen proved himself a well-practiced, accomplished speaker. Some might say performer. He used no notes, yet never missed a beat, right down to the dramatic pauses.
Elsewhere, the article notes:
...what really irked some was that they felt Berendzen, in focusing mostly on his painful experiences as a child, minimized the consequences of his actions as an adult.
When one of the conference organizers, Temple University law student Ellen Levy, asked him if he considered himself a perpetrator, Berendzen back- pedaled: "Of a sort. Not child abuse. It was a misdemeanor. But, sure."
That was the closest he came to addressing the legal aspect. In May 1990, Berendzen pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of making indecent telephone calls. A two-month jail sentence was suspended on the condition that he continue psychiatric counseling.
He never mentioned specifics of those telephone calls to the gathered social workers. A recipient of one call described it as "filthy beyond your most horrible nightmares." He did quote the prosecutor, who said the calls were somewhat "cerebral" and probing.
Berendzen has said that the sex abuse he suffered as a child was not an excuse for his later actions - only an explanation; but there were some who questioned his sincerity.
"This happens a lot when our clients get caught. It's then that they'll start to deal with their victim issues," said Barbara Keller, a supervisor for Chester County's sex-offender program at Human Services Inc. in Downingtown. "I found myself pretty skeptical about a lot of things."
The Kirkus review of his book lays his rationale out in starkly absurd terms:
Berendzen blocked the episodes from his consciousness and lost himself in work, becoming an astronomer, a professor at Harvard, and, finally, president of AU. Workaholism had destroyed his first marriage, but his second was happy and stable, as wife Gail worked with him to upgrade AU's image and put it on the road to financial prosperity; together, they became prominent on the Washington social scene.
But, gradually, disturbing compulsions began to intrude upon Berendzen's carefully controlled life.
He found himself making furtive phone calls to day-care providers who had advertised in Washington newspapers. He would quiz them about sexual activities with children and lead them on with confessions of his own invented exploits. The author never linked the calls to what he'd suffered, and, he says, never got sexual pleasure from them: He was trying to find out, in a confused way, what makes adults use children for such sick purposes.
Bear in mind that the police reports, and interviews with the day care operator he was calling, he repeatedly stated that he was masturbating during the call.
Appropriately, nobody in Chicago wanted to hear his bullshit...
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993 ... ers-clinic
Richard Berendzen, former president of American University in Washington, D.C., was both the perpetrator and the victim of a tragedy. This self-absorbed autobiography, however, focuses only on his own tragedy: his mother's sexual abuse of him. It completely ignores the consequences of the obscene phone calls he admits making to as many as 15 women "who had placed ads in newspapers to provide child care."
Berendzen states that his being a victim of childhood sexual abuse does not excuse his crimes; nonetheless he repeatedly describes the terroristic phone calls as the result of a "compulsion." After being discovered, Berendzen maintained that the calls were made not for prurient purposes but for "data gathering."
His mother was a psychotic, filled with wild fantasies and crazy perceptions. For years, she called him into what became a dreaded location, the middle bedroom, by issuing what became a dreaded demand: "Come here." The episodes of abuse ended, Berendzen reasons, when at 12 he became too old to control.
When one of the women to whom Berendzen made repeated obscene calls between 1987 and 1990 cooperated with police to catch him, his world fell apart. He describes his resultant trials, humiliation and grief as he faced his family, members of the American University community, the press and, briefly noted, the criminal justice system. He tells of weeks of therapy at the Johns Hopkins sexual disorders clinic.
The lessons he hopes to teach? The public needs to appreciate the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse and the problems and pathological behaviors it creates, and recognize the need for psychotherapy for its victims.
Perhaps, but these lessons have been taught before and beg critical questions regarding criminal behavior and personal responsibility. Berendzen agonizes throughout much of this book over the consequences of his detection to his own life and career, to his family and to American University. But nowhere does he agonize over the effect that terrorizing phone calls detailing child sexual abuse could have on women charged with watching children. When appearing on television, ironically, his greatest fear is that he might receive "hate calls."
Then there's the issue of punishment. Berendzen resists it since he believes he is sick, and he receives none: His jail terms were suspended with the requirement that he get psychiatric treatment. Although he lost his presidency, he is back at American University as a tenured, full professor teaching full time.