Director and producer Tyler Perry has written an open letter addressed to one of ex-Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky’s alleged sex abuse victims. In the letter that was published by Newsweek on Monday, Perry, a survivor of childhood sex abuse, offers words of encouragement to a boy who spoke up in the Penn State sex scandal. Perry also refers to Sandusky as a “coward and very sick individual.”
“I don’t know your name, but I know your face. I don’t know your journey, but I know where you are. I am your brother!” the letter begins. “I must tell you, what you have done is so courageous. The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at that age.”
Perry goes on to detail some of his own experiences. He also offers more words of support for the now 17-year-old victim, who says that Sandusky began abusing him when he was 11 years old:
I was a very poor young black boy in New Orleans, just a face without a name, swimming in a sea of poverty trying to survive. Forget about living, I was just trying to exist. I was enduring a lot of the same things that you’ve come forward and said happened to you, and it was awful. I felt so powerless. I knew what was happening to me, but unlike you, I couldn’t speak about it because no one saw me. I was invisible and my voice was inaudible.
So to think that you, when you were only 11 years old, spoke up—you are my hero! I’m so proud of you. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I want you to know you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. Please know that you were chosen by a monster. You didn’t choose him. You didn’t ask for it and, most of all, you didn’t deserve it. What a huge lesson that was for me to learn. Your 11-year-old self was no match for wicked, evil tactics of this kind. You were hunted like prey. A pedophile looks for the young boys he thinks he can manipulate. The ones who have daddy or mommy issues, the ones who are broken, and the ones who are in need. But this wasn’t you.
Do you know that at the young age of 11 you had more courage than all the adults who let you down? All of the ones who didn’t go to the proper authorities, all of the ones who were worried about their careers, reputations, or livelihoods. All of the ones who didn’t want to get involved. Or even the ones who tried to convince your mother not to fight. You are stronger than them all! I wonder what they would have done if it were their own child.
Perry goes on to tell the victim the hardest part is over and that he hopes the “very sick individual who hurt you would have the courage to admit his wrong and not put you through a trial.”
Perry closed his letter by telling the victim that he stands with him.
You may have to go through with that trial, and you may feel all alone when you’re on that witness stand, but just know that there are millions of young boys and grown men who are standing with you—including me. If every man who has ever been molested would speak up, you would see that we’re all around you. You may not know all of our faces and names, but my prayer is that you feel our strength holding you up. You will get through this; you’ve already endured the worst part at age 11. Now fight on, my young friend, fight on! We are all with you.
Perry was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show ten different times. In one of his last appearances, he spoke openly about the physical and sexual abuse he suffered from both male and female adults who had been friends of his family. Perry told Oprah he was just 5 or 6 years old the first time he was molested, and the abuse continued for several years.
Sandusky, who has been charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse against children, spoke with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas to proclaim his innocence. “I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact,” he said. Sandusky, 67, is free on a $100,000 bond.