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Friday, March 10, 2006

Book Review: To Protect The Innocent 

MarkLockeMills  To Protect The Innocent by Mark Locke Mills

Mark Locke Mills' first book doesn't pull any punches.    He visualized a hard-hitting and powerful storyline and refused to sugarcoat the contents to attempt a more marketable product when he finished his last page.     In doing so, he turned the spotlight on a subject that many would prefer stayed hidden from the light.    To Protect The Innocent looks at the story of the "modern American plague."
Pedophilia has become America's dirty little secret.     No one wants to talk about it and pedophiles are literally getting away with murder.     The authorities can't catch them, the courts are too soft on them, and no one is doing anything about it.     No one, that is except Dan Forester ...

If this blurb from the back cover doesn't grab your interest, the rest of the book probably isn't for you either.

Mills, currently a college professor in Minnesota, spent 13 years as a journalist, and covered many stories concerning child molestation.     It was the time he spent as a Des Moines, Iowa television journalist, covering the disappearance of Johnny Gosch 20 years earlier that led to the writing of a novel about the abduction of a child.     Gosch was 12 when he was believed to have been abducted near his West Des Moines home.     This was one of the first missing child cases to make national attention.     Johnny Gosch has never been found; no charges were filed; and the mystery has become state lore in Iowa.

Mark found that the crime of child abuse is much more prevalent and pervasive that most people even seem to realize.     He compiled statistics from numerous sources and used actual statistical data woven into his fictional storyline to stress the severity of the growing number of cases every year.     Of the alarming statistics, just a few that should keep you up at night are:
  •   90% of child sex abuse cases are never reported
  •   The average sex offender is arrested for only 1 out of 30 crimes committed
  •   Just over 1 million children a year are sexually abused in the United States
  •   Approximately 95% of the child victims are molested by someone they know
  •   60% of convicted sex offenders are currently on probation or out on parole

The book alternates between several points of view, including the abused and murdered child's mother and father in Wheaton, Maryland, a pedophile in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, a TV reporter in Omaha, Nebraska, New York City police officers, and FBI research agents in Quantico, Virginia, as well as several other different locations throughout the country as the story progresses.     Many of the characters were developed out of composites of subjects that Mark Mills encountered during the Gosch case in Iowa and others that Mark worked on over the years.

At times, it was a difficult read, since the alternating points of view and location changed rapidly, sometimes every three or four paragraphs within a single chapter.     You may find yourself having to backtrack to make sure you know exactly who you are, and in what location you are finding yourself in at that very moment.

There is no simple way to outline the book.     To try would be to say, "... The novel is about a couple, Dan and Jan Forester, who lose their son, Mike, to a child molester.     The mother goes into a deep depression and the father has a bout with alcoholism.     Eventually the mother goes on the speaker circuit and the accurate facts and figures about pedophilia come out through her speeches.     Meanwhile, the father wages a one-man war against child molestation ..."

The truth is that the complexity of the six distinct storylines that divaricate completely with nothing to bind them together with the exception of the underlying evil that is child abuse, child pornography, and pedophilia is the story.     And, it is those six distinct stories that are being affecting by such evil, but still somehow meanders through the course of the book, to converge one-by-one in an overlapping convoke to the empyrean and final show-down.

In addition to the main characters you are introduced to in the book, the secondary characters and peripherals are also some characters you won't soon forget.     As you zigzag across the country, stepping in and out of Dan Forester's shoes as he tracks down child molesters to deliver his own brand of vigilante justice, viewing the world through the eyes of an upstanding citizen (and closet pedophile) who has finally found his place in the world; pulling together overwhelmingly staggering facts and figures for your speaking engagements to raise awareness about child abuse, interviewing parents, children, and molesters for a funded documentary you are working on for public television on child abuse; heading up the FBI team that is trying to track down someone who is systematically killing child molesters; or grow increasing frustrated as you spend night after night on stake-out trying to find enough evidence to bring down a suspect for child pornography and selling children as slaves to wealthy overseas dignitaries, imagine what happens when these six worlds collide.

Mills brought a very difficult subject out of the shadows and into the light, where it needs to be.     We can't continue to be a nation that will address other issues but prefers to keep our collective heads in the sand when it comes to issues regarding the physical, sexual and emotional abuses of our children.     As someone who has worked directly with law enforcement, legal agencies and mental health agencies on many matters, which, sadly, often involved children and child abuse, I applaud the work Mark has done to see that this book, To Protect The Innocent, was written and published.

Reviewer's note:    In several sections of the book, many of Mark's characters make reference to the use of, or their support of, chemical castration.     Personally, I am not an advocate of either chemical or medical castration for the following reasons:    The sexual rape of anyone (child or adult) has less to do with sex, but everything to do with power and control.     Castration would only prevent one type of object (genitals) from being used for rape.     It would not prevent other items (bottles, broom handles, iron bars, weapons of opportunity, etc.) from being used.

Also, with chemical castration, the person has to submit to regular injections of the Depo-Provera once a month to keep the levels constant in their system.     If a person does not get his shots once a month and/or if a person takes steroids (which will counteract the effects of the Depo-Provera) the castration is voided, and the person's testosterone level will be the same as before the Depo-Provera shots were started, or higher if steroids are also in use.     This "method" of punishment/terms of probation isn't very effective in preventing repeat offenders.


Susan Reno-Gilliland is the proprietor of "This Southern Belle's Life," from which many diverse projects have developed.     She is a published writer, columnist, photographer, artist and dreamer.     "Darlin', don't ever take a Southern woman for granted!" [tm]

Review written for and published
on March 04, 2006

Category::   Reviews "Books"

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