Whenever a well-respected man is accused of sexual assault, people who know him as a "good man" step up to defend him.

It's understandable. We all want to think we really know the people we know, and when someone has shown us that they are upstanding citizens, it's hard to imagine that they could do something horrible.

But time and time again, we've seen "good men" get caught with their pants down—figuratively and literally. And until we get past the idea that a community helper who serves others selflessly cannot also be an abuser or sexual predator, we are going to keep believing the wrong people more often than not.


Cases in point: Priests who abused children, impregnated minors, procured abortions—and the bishops who allowed them to keep working.

The Pennsylvania grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic church has revealed some stories that should make us question what we think we know about good men.

For example, the priest who raped a girl repeatedly and then assisted her in getting an abortion when he impregnated her was probably a good man in many people's eyes. He was a priest, after all. No doubt he aided the poor, visited the sick, comforted the grieving, and offered sage counsel. I'm sure many people admired and respected him and the work he did.

But that doesn't mean he didn't have sex with a child.

And the bishop who, upon hearing about this priest's predicament, sent a letter to him saying, "This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief," and then recommended him to minister in a different area of the country—he was undoubtedly a wonderful man in many people's eyes too.

All of the priests who molested choir boys and the higher clergy who covered it up were probably awesome, highly respected citizens in their communities.

The terrifying truth is that "good men" make the best predators.

Bill Cosby was everyone's favorite dad. He gave to charities and worked to help young black men lead better lives. He was also a serial rapist.

Boy Scout leaders have molested children—and most of them were literally Boy Scouts. Clergymen, teachers, civic leaders, politicians—these are all people who are serving the community, but that doesn't not mean that they couldn't possible be abusing their power and preying on the unsuspecting behind closed doors.

Being a "good man" is not a defense when someone is accused of sexual assault. It's just not. In fact, those are the men who most often get away with it because who would believe that a man who ministers to the needy, who exemplifies righteousness, who gives time and money to charity could do something heinous? But it happens all the time.

Most "good men" aren't predators and not all accusations are provable. But the statistics tell us who we should lean toward believing first.

I know some really wonderful men, and it would throw my world into a spin if any of them were accused of abuse or assault. But I wouldn't automatically dismiss an allegation simply because I know someone to be a good man.

Statistically, it's much more likely that an incident of reported assault actually happened than not. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's review of the research, between 2.1 and 7.1% of sexual violence reports turn out to be false. Even at that, the center asserts that those numbers tend to be overinflated because of inconsistencies in reporting protocol and unclear definitions of sexual assault.

The truth is that most sexual assaults go unreported, most allegations turn out to be true, and alleged victims have a lot to lose by coming forward with an accusation. So when someone does come forward, the societal default should not be based on the legal imperative of "Innocent until proven guilty." It should be based on the statistical reality that tell us "Chances are the accuser is telling the truth."

Too many "good men" have done bad things for us to use character perceptions as a meaningful defense.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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