One Victim’s Testimony
From 1986 to 1992 I was molested by a man who most thought was a “pillar of our community” in Homewood, Alabama – a suburb of Birmingham. A leader in my Boy Scouts troop, a leader in my church. He had everyone fooled.
I think there are two kinds of child molesters. One is the trench-coat-wearing, playground-stalking, child-stealing kind of person. He’s quick and violent. The other kind is the serial molester – he embeds himself in the community, wins the trust of families and children, and abuses that position of power to commit the molestation. Don Corley is the second type.
After my parents split up when I was 12, he saw my pre-teen vulnerability, befriended my family and presented himself as someone who could be a father figure to me. I was invited to hang out at his house, go on vacations with him, babysit his children. I won’t get into the details, but the molestation started under the pretense of trying to “educate me” on sexual issues. I was young enough and naive enough to believe him.
I was never “forced” or “threatened” overtly. We would sit down and “talk” – he would talk and talk in circles where I would get confused, lose track of things and end up agreeing with him just so the conversation would end. He took what was a carefully crafted parental role and turned it into a violation of a position of safety, trust and protection.
It took me until my Senior year in high school to grow up enough to start to say “no.” I dated my first real girlfriend, started to think about college and my future. I wanted to leave town, leave my disgusting past and start my life over. And I did just that in August 1992, I went to college two states away. It certainly was a growing experience, and I was quite absorbed in all the things college presents to you, until my phone rang – someone gave my number to the Homewood police. And they had some questions for me.
After I left town, Don Corley finally made a move on a boy who had sense enough to say no, and to tell his parents. The parents did the right thing and contacted the police. The police investigated, and every stone they unturned seemed to lead to more and more information. If I remember correctly, the police informed me that they had identified 42 victims over a 25 year period, in a trail leading from California to Alabama.
They believed there were more victims out there, but had to take the investigation to the next level. Some victims didn’t want to go public with their story. Some victims were not open to talking to the police at all. Some victims wanted to press charges, but the statute of limitations had run out and they were unable to. In the end, three boys pressed charges, and I was one of them.
Don Corley avoided a trial and plead guilty to a variety of charges. The law is funny sometimes in the way decisions are made. But the bottom line is that he was sentenced to 30 years in jail, eligible for parole after 10 years.
It was really nice not to think about things during those first 10 years. I started to grow up, got married, bought a house. I was able to start shedding the baggage of who I WAS and start growing into who I was to BECOME. Approaching that 10 year mark, I tried to forget and move on. But one day I got a phone call from Don Corley’s lawyer. I can’t recall the exact language of the call but I remember it was essentially a fishing exercise – what would it take for you not to oppose the parole for Don Corley? That call brought back all sorts of emotion for me, and I vowed I would do what I could to help ensure Don Corley served his time. I spoke at the Parole hearing in Montgomery, Alabama along with two other victims. That was meaningful, however the Parole board clearly said that the volume of letters and petitions sent in from the general public in favor of Don Corley not being granted parole spoke volumes, and they denied him parole. Today he is in Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery, Alabama.
After the (literally) hundreds of hours of therapy I’ve had since I went public with the fact that I was molested, I can honestly say that I don’t have any hatred or anger towards Don Corley. I’ll be affected by this experience for the rest of my life. I deal with sleep issues, a skewed sense of morality, sexual issues, addiction issues, and low self esteem, which require constant attention, for the rest of my life. And it’s not just me, the people that are most important to me have to deal with a variety of issues too. I think about the other identified victims and what they have to deal with. Mathematically speaking, Don Corley is in jail for 10 years for each boy that pressed charges. And if I’m right about the 41 other potential victims, well the math is all the more devastating. 30 years just doesn’t seem enough.
But the law is the law. I just want him to serve his time.
Don Corley will be up for parole again in mid-January 2012. I don’t want your money – I want your time. Please take 15 minutes to write a letter and tell the Parole Board of Alabama that you would like for Don Corley to serve his time – to stay in jail for his full sentence and not be granted parole. Better yet, print out one of our petitions and get as many people as you can to sign it and mail it to the Parole Board. Of course, the best I can hope for is that you do both.
That 15 minutes you can give towards this cause would really make a difference. Help us keep Don Corley in jail. Share your thoughts on the subject with the Alabama Parole Board and help keep an admitted child molester off our streets. If you would like to help, click here to get started.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart.