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Monday , October 22 2018
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Home | Opinion | Denials, Disbelief and the Dark Room

Denials, Disbelief and the Dark Room

When I was fifteen years old, I became Steve Young over at “KXCR, 89.5 FM, the Heart of El Paso.” From a young age, mass media was in my blood. It’s all I wanted to do, play music and add to everyone’s day, memories, or be the voice on the radio as they drove across town at two in the morning.

My ambitions eventually outgrew KXCR, and it was time to move to another station. I had my eyes set on Z-93 (Remember them?)
At the time the program director of Z-93 was John (I’ll keep his last name out of this piece.)

If you wanted a job in radio, behind the mic, the program director was the one you had to talk with.

For weeks I was working on my aircheck – a tape recording of all your on-air breaks. Every radio station back in the day had a tape deck that would record only when the mic was hot.

Every so often you would take that tape and sit with your program director, in the case of KXCR that was Doc Burns, and you would listen to it. It’s a great way to get feedback and advice on how to improve.

When looking for another gig, you would send an air check along with your resume. (I also included some of the ad spots I was on at KXCR as well as ads I did for a few local businesses at other stations).

I had my resume and air check ready. On Friday I drove off to Executive Center Blvd to leave them with the station and began to wait.
The following week John called me to set up an interview on a Saturday. I couldn’t wait. I was so looking forward to just maybe getting on at Z-93 right then and there.

All week I was watching the clock, counting down until I would have that interview.

Saturday arrived, and I was up and out the door at 8 a.m.

Forty-five minutes later I was at the door of the station, buzzing to be let in.  John and I sat in a big office. I remember it was the first one on the right, as you went past the receptionist’s desk. The office was large.

Across from the door was a bookcase, a light brown bookcase. To the right of that, two chairs facing the desk that John sat behind.

John sat down and popped the tape into a player, and we began to listen. Some of what he heard, he liked. Other things he said would not cross over from a jazz station to a top 40 station.

“Keep working,” I remember his saying as we walked towards his office door. “You’ll get there.”

As he reached the door, he turned his office light off. I remember that switch and where it was. It was on the left side of the door as you were walking out.

He turned the light off but never opened the door.

“You know,” he said, and then grabbed me. “Maybe if we…”

It was beyond belief. I’m sixteen years old, seventeen in a couple of months.

I drove a light blue Ford Gran Torino to the interview. I can even remember what I was wearing that day – a white shirt I bought at Gadzooks, when it was on the lower level of the mall, next to Sears. Also had on a pair of jeans.

John began to not only grab my crotch but rub it as well.

I told him to stop. He wouldn’t.

“Maybe there’s another way you can get on the air…”

I finally pushed passed him and walked out of the building. I think I broke every speed limit to get home and into the shower.

I tried to tell others what happened. I tried to tell family, a couple of friends, even called the station to talk to the general manager.

No one and I mean NO ONE would listen to what I had to say.

“It’s the late-80’s,” one person told me. “That doesn’t happen anymore.” The person who told me that, I expected more from.

From that point on, I simply kept it to myself. Then, a few years later, I heard that John had tried the same thing to a friend of mine.

This has all been on my mind a lot the past couple of weeks, with the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, and the accusations brought against him by Christine Blasey Ford, and others.

This is yet another issue that has divided America along both party and belief lines.

I’ve had people tell me – that same person who tells me that if a Catholic Priest molested a child forty years ago, they should be in jail – she never went public, so how can it be true.

I never went public with what happened to me.

Yes, I tried to tell my family. I tried to tell the station’s general manager, but that was it.

When no one seemed to give a damn, what was I to do then?

That line of thought disgusts me.

I have other friends who say that someone who is popular or in the public eye would never consider doing such a thing. One friend went so far as to say that he knew he wanted to be a judge and was thinking ahead.

The only way I could answer that was by reminding him about Bill Cosby.

Think about how many sexual assaults happen on college campuses and never get reported. Think of how many children are sexually assaulted and are too scared to come forward because it’s being done by a member of their family.

According to one government statistic, between 85-90 percent of sexual assaults reported by college, women are perpetrated by someone they know.

Another statistic shows that rape and sexual assault are also the most unreported crime, with estimates as high as 90 percent.

These same friends called the statistics “fake news.”

These same friends then began to say that Dr Ford was a slut, was not telling the truth, was only looking for a paycheck.

What disgusts me about these so-called friends, each and everyone one of them has a daughter.

So, let’s circle here.

Many of you know who I am. I’m friends with quite a many people. None of you knew this about me.

Now, look at your family, your friends, and ask yourself one question: have any of them been sexually assaulted? Raped?

You may never know.

Before you begin to make fun of or degrade someone who says/uses #MeToo, or before you begin to dismiss any of Kavanaugh’s accusers, look at those people around you, and remember, up to 90 percent of sexual assaults, rapes, molestations go unreported.

Oh, and before you say, “So-and-so was never (raped, molested, or sexually assaulted), they would have told me!”

Maybe, just maybe, look at how you act when you hear someone else may have been assaulted.

About Steven Cottingham

Steven Cottingham is a writer, photographer, and poet. In addition to his work for the El Paso Herald-Post, he is a videographer for AJ+, is launching a weekly podcast based on his forthcoming book, “Leap of Fatih” which will be released November 2018 from HarperCollins. Through his company, Still Going Somewhere, he is producing a series of micro-documentaries with individuals who have survived the Holocaust. You can contact Steven at 915-201-0918, or by email at steven@epheraldpost.com. To learn more about Steven, visit his webpage at www.StillGoingSomewhere.com

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5 comments

  1. Name Withheld By Request

    When I was 15 I wanted nothing more than to be a model. My mom, she did what she could by taking me to lots of people and one person was sick.

    My mom took me to some man who ran an agency on Montana. He told both of us that he would have pictures made, a video done up, and that he would be able to get me into modeling. The next month when my mom got her check she took me back and left me to have it all done.

    When I was in the place he used as a studio I did not have a bikini, just a onesie. He said I should just be in my underwear if it was matching cuz it would look like I was in a bikini. When I said no he started taking my clothes off of me saying it was going to be okay and no one would ever guess what i was wearing. I don’t know why but I did it. He said that is how it just goes with everyone.

    He did things to me after he took some pictures of me. He did things that when I told my mom she did not want to think happened. She did not want to go to the police because she said if I was wrong it would hurt his job and business. It was nine months later, just only 1 day off, that I had his baby. My mom did nothihng but move us to Los Angles with my uncle.

    This was in 1990. We need to start beliving what our daughters, sisters, and friends tell us. I had to leave school and work to raise a baby. I love my son, but I don’t love how I got him.

    Please don’t put my name.

  2. Predators think they can get away with it. Educate young people about actions they need to take to stop them. I have heard way too many stories of abuse. I drove to Chicago at the request of my ex and his ex wife to pick up their daughter. She had been raped by a creep photograher. Her biological parents provided one of their vehicles because neither were able to leave work. I was her fathers partner at the time. Daughter thanked me years later. To this day, I too, still get harassed and it pisses me off. They don’t leave my presence without hearing about how disrespectful they are.

  3. I am glad you came forward with what happened to you. I know exactly who you are talking about, J.W. That man was nothing short of predatory when he saw someone he wanted. He did the same thing to me when he was working at a recording studio. I was there with a friend. He was the worst, he was evil. He may still be for what I know. Like you, everyone said that it could not have happened to me. They said why would someone like him do that. Its sick.

  4. No man is going to do this to a boy. Not then, not now.

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