Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Tracie's Thoughts: What has gone wrong?


September 5, 2019

There are a lot of unpleasant things that I have experienced in my lifetime; losing a good friend to suicide when I was a teenager, the death of all but one of my grandparents, abusive relationships, having my first grandchild born premature at 27 weeks and not knowing if he would live or die (he lived), dealing with cancer at the age of 30 and many more unpleasant events, but never has an experience bothered me as much as the experience of covering a sexual molestation trial.

After the first day of the trial, I was left reeling from the testimony as I was devastated to hear what happened, something that no human should ever have to experience and never have to listen to. After the second day, after the guilty verdict, I drove home in tears, trying to understand how someone could place their own selfish desires over the safety of a child. How could someone destroy a child’s life to satisfy their own selfish needs? How could someone destroy the life of a child who loved and looked up to them?

The day after the trial, I was pretty much a walking zombie. All I could think about was what I had heard during the trial and to be honest, I was emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted. Many times throughout the work day I would have to control the tears that tried to run down my face. I prayed to God and asked him how He could allow things like this to happen to innocent children? What good could come from this?

I understand that God allows things to happen because He has given us free will, but …

As I was going over and over everything in my head, I started to think about the way things used to be, when things like that didn’t seem to happen as often as they do now. I don’t know, maybe they did but it wasn’t heard about as often. I do remember a girl in the fifth grade, at my school, when I was in eighth grade, who was pregnant because of molestation.

But, I do believe that life for children was a lot safer years ago. I remember my parents volunteered at the baseball fields as official scorekeepers and announcers for Little League and Babe Ruth for at least 10 years. We spent our whole summer at the ball fields and my brother and I had free reign to go where we pleased and our parents never worried about us, even though the ball fields were not in the best part of town.

My brother and I roamed with our friends all over the town, a town of about 13,000 at the time, knowing every shortcut and inch of the town. We would check in with our parents occasionally, mainly to beg for money to spend at the concession stand or money to go to the arcade located about 10 blocks or so away.

No one worried that my brother, our friends and I would get abducted or harmed in anyway. My parents worried more about me falling out of one of the many trees that for some reason I constantly had to climb.

When I had my daughter, I was looking forward to her having as wonderful and adventurous childhood as I did, but things had changed. It was no longer safe to even let your child play in the front or backyard in town without someone watching them constantly. I almost learned this the hard way.

I moved into a second floor apartment in town with my then 5-year-old daughter. The third-floor couple came down to meet me and offered to babysit for me when I worked as I was a single mother at the time. They seemed really nice and I, being naïve thought that that was going to be a great deal, until the wife pulled me aside and told me that her husband was a registered sex offender but that I shouldn’t worry because he assaulted little boys not girls. Let’s just say that they never babysat and I moved as soon as I could, even taking out a loan to get the heck out of there.

Somewhere along the years things began to change and you began hearing more and more about children missing and children being assaulted. But, it still wasn’t a real concern because while you learn about it on TV, magazines and in the newspaper. It still wasn’t real because you hadn’t had to face it in real life.

What is happening to people and society as a whole? Why are more people getting hurt, abused and destroyed? When did empathy die and what ever happened to the Golden Rule?

As I sit here still broken but slowly mending, I realize that I will never be the same because of the trial and I fear for my children and grandchildren. What type of world are they inheriting?

I thank God every day that most of my grandchildren live in rural places, where the disease of “if it feels good, do it” and selfishness hasn’t invaded so much and the kids can still play outside and have adventures. I have never loved Wyoming more.

Tracie Mitchell is a staff writer with the Northern Wyoming News.


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