The true story of a sexual deviant, his 12-year-old victim and the educators who defy authority and work with the police to catch the perpetrator, their School District Superintendent.
Although some suspect an illicit relationship, the Superintendent's Jekyll-Hyde persona fools an entire community.
Bernard H. Cohen, the victim's high school principal, chronicles the psychological details and political obstacles he and others face during their 18-month effort to save the child, which also leads to the Superintendent's jailing.
A must-read for teachers and parents.
Seth’s hands trembled. His entire body shivered with fear as
he called Bob’s cell phone. He knew their age difference was
extreme, but Bob’s lavish gifts and attention were more than he
could ignore. Anyway, tonight, he wasn’t calling to say “thanks.”
Seth’s new friend, Robinson, saw him shudder as the call went
through, and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Although
Seth had called Bob hundreds of times, tonight would be different.
Now 14 years old and in high school, Seth finally gave in to the
incessant prodding of Robinson and others, and was ready to end
his relationship with Bob.
Seventh and eighth grade classmates had teased Seth about
Bob. Seth’s family and teachers had chastised him for being best
friends with Bob, a middle-aged man. Even Seth’s normally-docile
father finally questioned and forbade the two-year relationship, but
Bob ignored him by delivering a Christmas basket of expensive gift
That act of defiance, when all had agreed to a separation, convinced
Seth that Bob was a seductive manipulator. Bob’s gift basket,ignoring
Seth’s father, catalyzed the young boy to unleash
himself from the older man’s grip.
Seth’s name appeared on Bob’s caller ID. Although it was a
cold January night, Bob rushed outside to the patio for privacy.
Before Bob could even answer, Seth was speaking at his usual rapid
“Hey, Bob, it’s Seth. What’s going on? You haven’t called me
in weeks. Mrs. Lewis brought me a note from you that said we are
in a trial separation and she said that you miss me. I understand
the separation but I’d really like to get together tonight. I think
we have something great to celebrate and I really appreciate the
“What are we celebrating,” Bob asked, huddled against the
cold Hudson Valley wind, ready to end the imposed separation.
Seth refused to answer about the celebration. Instead, he teased.
“I’ll share that information when we’re together.”
Seth had been nervous about calling, but the sound of Bob’s
voice temporarily re-assured him. But, again Seth’s body trembled.
He abruptly ended the call, promising to call back in ten minutes.
Bob was curious about the unexpected celebration and excited
about the renewed relationship. After ten minutes, Seth called.
“The reason for celebrating is so important,” Seth teased, “that
only sex should end this wonderful day. My father will be staying
overnight at Grandma’s because she’s sick.”
Bob pushed him. “If we’re going to have sex, you’ve got to tell
me what we’re celebrating,” He followed with his usual counsel.
“You know, Seth, I always leave the sex stuff up to you.”
Seth wanted no misunderstanding.
“Bob, I mean real sex tonight.”
“Like I said, Seth, I always leave that up to you; real sex or not,
Again, Seth got nervous.
“All the lights will be out in my house. If any lights are on,
don’t stop to pick me up. That means my father came home.” Bob
responded with a promise of real sex “like before.”
Seth closed the phone. No longer nervous, the high school
sophomore now felt sick, thinking of all the sex he had with a
On the other end, Bob made excuses to his family for his unexpected
evening departure. His household only included 17-year-old
daughter, Lynn, and his wife, Linda. Bob’s other children were
adults, living out-of-town or away at college.
Bob wasn’t thinking about his family. He’d been pining for
Seth during a separation that was imposed by the boy’s father after
the police and I convinced him to be more concerned about
his son’s relationship with Bob.
Bob’s family, also concerned, had long-pressured him about
Seth. Bob ignored them and described his inter-generational relationship
“If Seth could realize that I was like him at his age and that I
grew up to be successful, I could be a role model for him.”
Excerpted from "Behind The Schoolhouse Doors: An Obsession With a Young Student" by Bernard H. Cohen. Copyright © 0 by Bernard H. Cohen. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Bernard H. Cohen
Native New Yorker, Bernard H. Cohen, was a nationally-known education researcher, author and consultant to over 400 school systems and organizations such as National Geographic and Sesame Street after teaching and supervising at all levels of education. He taught graduate courses and seminars in Reading Instruction, ESL, Bilingual Education, and Student Testing at Rhode Island College, Columbia University, St. Thomas Aquinas and Georgian Court College.
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