I've been carrying this newspaper clipping around in my purse for over a year.
I still remember the shock I felt on that Saturday morning last February when my mother, so tentatively, asked me whether I'd seen the paper and slid it across the table to me. I remember the horror I felt upon reading the article and learning that not only was I not the only one, but that the others who had come forward suffered much worse abuse at our former neighbor's hands than I did. I remember the irrational guilt I felt at not having known, and at having done nothing at the time to prevent it. I remember sitting in my mother's kitchen and spilling tears in a way I haven't done since I was a child.
I remember the urgency with which I sought out the lead detective in the case, and my insistence at meeting with him as soon as possible. I remember sitting in the Springfield Police's interrogation room with this kind, dedicated detective -- who had taken seriously the claims of, at first, a single woman reporting crimes that had taken place over 20 years ago -- and trembling uncontrollably as I told him my story. And I remember his nods of recognition, his resolute validation of a story that he had already heard in various forms from over a dozen women.
After 15 months of pre-trial hearings and motions, rescheduled court dates, and general delays of one kind and another, this matter will finally be before the courts a week from today. The deputy district attorney prosecuting the case phoned me last week to inform me of the date, and also to let me know that the defendant's attorney has asked for a "non-trial resolution" to the matter -- in other words, a plea agreement.
I will be there, not as a participant in the case, but as a witness to Gerald Klever's admission of guilt and accountability. I will look him in the eye as he leaves the courtroom, hoping that he recognize and remember me, and that he take responsibility for the harm he has done. I will look his wife in the eye, if she is there, and insist that she own up to her years of silent complicity with her husband.
But mostly I will be there to stand with the other women, members of his former church, who were brave enough to come forward in spring 2006.