MD - Children's Book Writer In Hot Water Over Comments To 10 Year Old Girl

Discussion in 'Crimes-Spotlight on Children' started by White Rain, Apr 27, 2007.

  1. White Rain

    White Rain Active Member

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    This kind of thing is no "joke" to me. He should be banned from ALL schools, not just one. He should have known that his "joke" was out of line, and I for one, am not really sure that he DIDN'T mean it. Kudos to the parents who reported him.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,268840,00.html

    A visit to an elementary school didn't have a fairytale ending for a Baltimore children's book writer after he made what he says was a joking comment to a 10-year-old that she should take off her clothes if she wanted his autograph on her face as she requested, The Baltimore Sun reported.
    Richard Lynn Stack, who makes appearances in classrooms across the United States with his dogs in tow, has been banned from visiting other public schools in Harford County after an April 16 incident at Abingdon Elementary School. A student in attendance asked Stack to sign his name on her forehead, school district spokesman Don Morrison told the Sun.
    Stack replied with an equally absurd request: He would autograph her forehead if she climbed on the cafeteria table and undressed.
    Parents of a few other schoolchildren who overheard the comments reported Stack, who explained to Abingdon officials that he was joking and had deliberately said something ridiculous to match the oddity of the question.
    When contacted by Sun reporters, Stack characterized the situation as "ludicrous."
    "I had a great time at the school and was very well-received," Stack said in a prepared statement, adding that hundreds of students and a dozen staff members were within earshot of the exchange. "I am confident everyone there connected with my visit knows that nothing improper was intended."
    Calling Stack's remark inappropriate, officials at the school canceled another of his scheduled visits at Abingdon and barred him from coming to any of the county's schools in the future, according to the Sun.
    "It's not something you can tolerate as a school system, that an adult would use that type of phraseology around a group of 10-year-olds," Morrison told the paper.
     
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  3. txsvicki

    txsvicki Active Member

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    So, they didn't report him to the authorities but just banned him from the school? If he is literate enough to have a career, visit children, and pretend to like children, he knew exactly what he was saying and it wasn't ridiculous. What if that's what he was thinking and he couldn't contain his mouth and impulses. Last year an elementary school in my town allowed a young man to come in and take historical photos, he became familiar to them, came back at a later date and got a young child into a room during busy gym time where he had her disrobe for photos and may have even molested her.
     
  4. Anita Richman

    Anita Richman New Member

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    Ugh! This makes me ill. Whiterain, thank you for posting it and I agree with you totally. This was no "joke"!
     
  5. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    This is so sad. I love these books. I really really really hope that it was just a horrible slip of the tongue, and that it isn't going to come out that he is some perv.

    I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and imagine the conversation:

    "Hi Mr Stack. I love your books!"

    "Thank you so much. Which one is your favorite?"

    "I love The Doggonest Christmas! I don't have a book to sign, but will you sign my face?" [laughing]

    "Sure, right after you take off your clothes and dance on the cafeteria tables?"

    I agree, totally inappropriate, but I am trying to envision it as a silly thing that came out really wrong and not a true proposition. Who would do that with so many witnesses around? Could he really be that way and have never been caught before? He is around kids all the time, but with tons of adults!

    What a shame, whether true or not, because he has had a tremendous impact on a lot of kids.

    http://www.authorsillustrators.com/stack/stack.htm
     
  6. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    Having not heard the conversation in context, I am inclined likely to give him the benefit of the doubt and to think that it might have gone something along the lines of what angelmom wrote.

    It's the cafeteria table comment that makes me think a harmless joke was intended. I can perceive it as ludicrous.

    I understand that schools and much of the public is very zero tolerance of this stuff, so I respect their decision, but on a personal note, I'm just not there yet (at the zero tolerance place) enough to think this man is a perv. It just doesn't ring true to me based on what I know.
     
  7. JanetElaine

    JanetElaine Well-Known Member

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    The hard part about things like this is, no-one of us was there. Things look so different in writing or on the news, and it really could have been a silly thing that came out wrong like Angelmom said. I don't know is that's the case here, but I really am getting a bit tired of people getting crucified for 'jokes gone wrong'. And in this case, even though he made that comment and even if he meant it, that does not mean he would ever lay his hands on a child. But I doubt he meant it - I agree the request to autograph her face was weird. I have a hard time believing he actually wanted to see her stripping on a table. Yes, I know weirdo's want weird stuff. But in this context? I think we have far more dangerous people to worry about, when it comes to our children. The real ones are way more subtle. I'd never heard of this guy before, btw, so I'm not saying all this because I love his books or whatever.
     
  8. JanetElaine

    JanetElaine Well-Known Member

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    :doh: If I had waited a few more minutes to post, I could have just gone 'yeah, what Southcitymom said'. ;)
     
  9. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    LOL! I was just reading your post and thinking JanetElaine said it so much more clearly than I did! :blowkiss:
     
  10. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    What I highlighted is the best part of that post - so very very true!
     
  11. ISPTRAX

    ISPTRAX New Member

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    I think this is getting way blown out of proportion and people need to lighten up.
     
  12. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    Fine - but whatever the circumstances, if that were my little girl, and my husband or I were present for the comment, he should expect to get punched. (Hubby would do more damage, but maybe I'd kick the man instead.)

    Maybe it's not criminal, but can't a children's book author be a little more creative and less creepy with his "silly" suggestions? Like - get on the table and do the Hokey Pokey?

    I've worked with children for a lot of years, and indulged their silliness w/o ever asking them to take off their clothes.
     
  13. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    But that's the question: did he "ask" her to take off her clothes (even in jest), or did he use dancing naked on a tabletop as an example of something not even remotely possible (like the expression "when pigs fly").

    I will certainly agree the former is troubling, but the latter actually reinforces the idea that the child getting naked is INappropriate by using it as an example of something that will never happen.

    The meaning of language changes radically depending on context.
     
  14. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    Well, that's what is so hard to gauge unless you were there. Apparently there were plenty of people who heard him - which makes me doubt any true malice - and some people thought it was a joke and some people thought it was inappropriate. Who knows? :confused:

    The fact that he said it in front of so many people does lead me to believe that it was just a very poor choice of words. If he were so stupid as to proposition a 10 year old in front of witnesses, he'd have been caught before now. He has been speaking to school groups and meeting children face to face literally for years.

    I'll admit to saying things I wish I could take back. Not long after someone close to me was widowed when her husband took his own life by hanging himself, we were talking about taxes, accountants, etc. in reference to all of the paperwork and crap she was dealing with on top of her grief. I made the comment that I could never be an accountant b/c dealing with money gives me hives, and that I'd rather hang myself than do other people's taxes all day. :eek: Unfortunately, it was not the first time nor the last that I could almost see the words coming out of my mouth but could not stop them in time. Horrible. It was over two years ago, and I cringe when I think about it.
     
  15. MREG2

    MREG2 Former Member

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    I agree... I don't care what the context was, he should not have said something like that to a 10 yr old. Or any child for that matter.

    I too would have done some damage if he said that to my child.
     
  16. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    Well - he said he responded w/ something equally silly - not equally "will never happen." I got the impression that he was trying to match her - I'll do something silly (sign your forehead) if you do something silly (dance naked).

    So in your interpretation - he never intended to sign her forehead. He was saying - signing there is as unlikely as you dancing naked on the tabletop. It'll never happen b/c dancing naked is totally inappropriate as is signing on people's foreheads.

    My interpretation is silly for silly, not inappropriate for inappropriate. And that in matching her for silliness, his statement is weird.

    However, I will say that I'd be quite sure he didn't INTEND for the child to dance naked. And giving him the benefit of a doubt - would have stopped her if she said OK.
     
  17. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    But - "hang myself" is an acceptable colloquism. As is "dance naked on tabletop" when you're among adults. I would say either is inappropriate around kids - but the latter is creepy.

    Think about it - you're around a lively group of kids - how exactly would you phrase that and how would it come out?

    Child: Please sign my forehead *laughing*
    Adult: Only if you jump on the table and dance naked.

    OR

    Adult: Sure - after you get up on the table and take off your clothes and dance.

    I just can't get there - it may have been something he wouldn't have said in retrospect but it was still a very strange comment to make around kids. Strange enough that if that were my child's school, I would never want him back.

    Also - even if a gaffe - what does that teach little girls? Any conversations with adults may lead to references about stripping? Adult men can tell you to take your clothes off even when they're joking?? Nope, never, ever, ever appropriate.
     
  18. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    ITA it's inappropriate. I am just hoping that that's all it was and that there is nothing more to it than that, is all I'm saying.

    And while I'd like to think I'd say none of those things in front of kids, I know better than to say never. I have certainly had to apologize to people, including my own children, for things that I wish I had not said.

    If they ban him, I understand. If parents got mad and wanted him to apologize, I understand. I was just saying that I thought it was sad that any of it happened at all b/c he seems like a guy who genuinely likes kids and dogs and his job. And I really don't think he's a perv.
     
  19. Nova

    Nova Active Member

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    I'm not saying "dance naked on a tabletop" is an expression I'd recommend in the company of 10-year-olds, but I think it's at least possible the sexual connotation was imposed by the surrounding adults.

    We have plenty of colloquial expressions on the order of "before I'd do 'that,' I'd run buck-naked through the town square," etc. In those expressions, "getting naked" isn't a turn on, but an example of something so extreme (although basically harmless) as to be very, very unlikely.
     
  20. Ang50

    Ang50 New Member

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    Fair enough - I'm not willing to indict him over the statement, but I wouldn't want him at my child's school either.

    And - if that were my child, we'd be having a discussion in which I would assess his level of contriteness, whether he was taking it seriously or blowing it off, likely of such as statement recurring, and so forth.

    Of course, the discussion would be much more effective with my husband doing his "mean face" behind me as I speak rationally with the man. :)
     
  21. Taximom

    Taximom Former Member

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    I'm glad the school is not taking any chances with this author. Jest or not, it was still highly inappropriate and there should be some consequence.

    On the other hand, his books do look interesting!
     

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