For the first time since the Sentinel has been tracking the phenomenon, a public school superintended has been cited by name when one of his employees was accused of inappropriate contact with a student.
At this point, the reader must be thinking: there has to be a catch. And, of course, there is. Unlike with priests, whose superiors are inevitably mentioned by name, the media give school superintendents and principals a pass when one of their underlings is busted.
What has made Harrisonville, Missouri, School District Superintendent Frank Dahman worthy of mention is that his son Joe, a teacher’s aide at Harrisonville High, is the one accused. Frank Dahman also stands accused of padding his son’s salary. Joe makes about $7,000 a year more than the average teacher’s aide, including those with considerably more experience.
Joe Dahman has resigned his position. Currently, the Harrisonville Police Department is investigating allegations of misconduct with a student, and no charges have been filed.
The possibility exists, of course, that Joe may be entirely innocent. The most extreme cases of injustice in recent American jurisprudence involve people wrongly accused of sex with minors. Given the minimal amount of real information available, it is surprising that the Kansas City Star has paid as much attention as it has to the Harrisonville case.
Over the past year or so, six employees of the North Kansas City School District were busted for sex–real or cyber–with students, and the superintendent was not cited once, and five of these six teachers were arrested.
When Catholic priests are involved, of course, it is Katy bar the door. The Star dedicated no fewer than 100 articles to former priest Shawn Ratigan charged with taking creepy photos of young children. The media attention inspired Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to indict Bishop Robert Finn for failing to turn Ratigan, recovering from a suicide attempt, over to the police.
As Oscar-winning film director Roman Polanski can attest, not all sex offenders are treated equally.