The Human Denial System of Ordinary Americans Shields Child Sexual Abuse

In July of 2002, the mother of five year-old Samantha Runnion went on Larry King Live and told the world that she blamed her daughter’s death on “every juror” who found her daughter’s killer, Alejandro Avila, not-guilty of child molestation one year before her child was raped and sodomized by him. She had every right to say this.

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Avila had previously been accused of molestation by two nine-year old girls but was set free by a jury.   The young girls were cousins and had been left alone with Avila. The girls said they were molested, forced to watch pornographic videos, and both girls testified to having plastic tubes inserted into their vagina. Their testimony was supported by other evidence but it appears that the jury would not allow themselves to believe that Avila had done anything but given a bath to a nine-year old female child who was not even related to him.

At least the judge in case was awake. After the not-guilty verdict was read, Judge Spitzer told Avila that the jury could have come to a different conclusion and that Avila was lucky. The judge warned Avila to change his life in order to avoid “such accusations” in the future. It seems Avila may have taken the judge’s warning too literally. One year later, Samantha Runnion was killed by Avila and he may have murdered her in order to stop her from accusing him of rape. Nevertheless, the denial system of mainstream Americans killed Samantha Runnion and failed the two girls who were not believed at the first trial.

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Source: Did System Fail to Protect Samantha?, Tina Dirmann, Los Angeles Times, July 27 2002, B-1

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