Iola’s MeToo moment

opinions

February 19, 2018 - 12:00 AM

If the Register had remained mum about why County Commissioner Jim Talkington resigned his position Friday afternoon, then all the nerve and resolve the young woman had mustered to come forward would have been for naught.
“I want you to tell what he did,” she said.
Not out of vindictiveness — she’s only 21 with no ax to grind — but to shine a light on the damage that happens when someone is violated.
Her impression of what it means to be a responsible adult has been tainted. Her faith in what it means to be a leader has been tried. Her innocence is shot.
What she thought was harmless banter quickly devolved into creepy.
On the flip side, the front page news of this sordid affair no doubt is throwing Talkington and his family into turmoil, and you hate to see the innocent sullied.
But had the Register followed Talkington’s request to say he was resigning for “personal reasons,” then we would be no better than the others who, for several years now, have allowed these transgressions to continue.

“I PROBABLY owe you an apology,” Tom Williams, chairman of the county commission, told the young lady Friday morning after she showed him the online messages.
Williams said he had known of this behavior for the past four years, but had done nothing to stop it.
Williams is not alone in keeping such information close to the vest. And one wonders to what length people will go to protect another’s image at the expense of damaging others.
The instance also highlights the need for mental help for those in the grip of pornography or sexual perversion. It is immoral for a married 56-year-old to try to lure a 21-year-old into a secret relationship.
In visiting with Williams and Register staff, the young woman said she accepted Talkington’s invitation to be Facebook friends because, “It’s not in my personality to ignore someone who I assume has good intentions.”
“I understand,” said Williams, a former Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent and county sheriff. “But it probably should be.”
“Oh, I’ve learned my lesson,” she replied, which goes against everything she was taught as a young girl, which is to be nice and polite and to respond when addressed by an adult.
She said she knew of Talkington only through his role as a leader and assumed his intentions were honorable.
Williams cautioned her that in coming forward, “you’re out there all alone.”
And that’s the fear, isn’t it? That a prominent official could now work to discredit her. After all, she is of age.
She’s willing to take that risk.
“I don’t want the reason for his resignation to be swept under the rug,” she said.

AS A community, we can assure this young woman that her efforts were not in vain by standing together against unethical behavior and committing ourselves to protecting the innocent, no matter how the chips may fall.

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