"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

December 17, 2011

Bill Zeller Speaks for the Victims of Jerry Sandusky and Penn State

In the early morning hours of January 2, 2011, a brilliant, funny and popular young man named Bill Zeller hung himself in his Princeton University apartment. His suicide was achieved three days later, January 5th, when the 27 year old grad student was removed from life support at the University Medical Center and pronounced dead.

Bill Zeller emailed a suicide note to his friends, explaining “I have the urge to declare my sanity and justify my actions, but I assume I’ll never be able to convince anyone that this was the right decision.”  Bill Zeller's suicide note quickly went viral.

Like millions of others who only met Bill Zeller through the intense emotional pain and suffering he courageously shared in his final words, I cried for him, for what he endured and for the tragic waste of his life.

What Bill Zeller revealed in his final words was that he had been repeatedly raped as a child.  He describes in detail the lifelong and devastating impact these terrible crimes had on his life. He concluded he could never escape the "darkness" that enveloped him except through death.  His words are heart wrenching. His pain palpable.

When I read Bill Zeller's suicide note, I recall thinking sadly how much good he could have accomplished for other victims of childhood sexual abuse by telling his story from a podium instead of a grave.  Unquestionably, Bill Zeller made the wrong choice in taking his life, but his suicide note warrants another reading because he speaks not just to the unbearable pain and lifelong damage he suffered; he also speaks for all the victims of childhood sexual abuse including the boys longtime Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky molested and raped.

Hopefully,  Sandusky's many victims will find a way to overcome the extreme damages inflicted upon them by Jerry Sandusky and described so eloquently by Bill Zeller.  Hopefully, they will obtain what was denied Bill Zeller - justice.

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