I read with distress the article “Ex-Maine State Police chief pleads guilty to sex assault, will serve 4 years” (Nov. 5).

As a licensed clinical social worker who worked with children and adolescents over many years, I will never forget the first young female victim of sexual assault who I worked with. Like Col. Andrew Demers’ victim, she, too, had been victimized at the age of 4.

When I saw her, she was 7 and exhibiting many behavioral difficulties. What I remember most is the moment she looked into my face and said, with a clear, cool countenance, “I remember everything.”

I am also a first responder and have worked alongside many other first responders. I found the claim put forth by Col. Demers’ clinical psychologist that “Demers’ actions were out of character and may have been a result of neurological damage from post-traumatic stress from decades of police service” insulting.

It’s a slap in the face to the thousands of first responders and service men and women who suffer with, and manage, varying degrees of PTSD or vicarious trauma. Let’s be clear: PTSD does not a pedophile make. Fortunately, Justice Thomas Warren did not buy this line of reasoning either.

Furthermore, it’s base to imply that if we can find or create an explanation for unacceptable behavior, that makes it less reprehensible – and it projects the worst possible face on mental health.

I think Col. Demers got off lightly. Ironic. One year for each year of his victim’s age. Then freedom. She may never be free. The adolescent girls I worked with, they weren’t free. They still remembered “everything.”

The courtroom was full of support for him, while she had only the voices of her parents to speak for her. She, of course, remains silent, in her vanished childhood.

Christine Curci

Cumberland