Teachers in MI stand behind a colleague convicted of rape - Glenn speaks to the victim’s father

On radio this morning, Glenn shared the story of John Janczewski, a resident of Rose City, Michigan whose son was molested by a teacher, Neal Erickson, at Rose City Middle School. The sexual abuse happened on several occasions when Janczewski’s son was in 8th grade. The boy is now a sophomore in college.

Erickson was convicted of statutory rape after a picture surfaced of the boy in a compromising position with the teacher. On July 10, 2013, the judge sentenced Erickson to 15-30 years in prison, but six educators and one school board member came out in support of the teacher and asked for leniency. According to The Detriot News:

Before the sentencing, six teachers and two retired ones wrote letters to the judge asking for leniency.

None of the teachers condoned what Erickson did. Instead, their letters focused on his 17 years of teaching, describing his popularity with students and teachers, how hard he worked and how often he volunteered for school functions.

Parents in the town have since called for the firing of the teachers and board member who have defended. The town has balked at the requests claiming the firings would result in expensive litigation that would drive the city into bankruptcy. Tonight at the Ogemaw Heights High School auditorium at 7pm, there will be a meeting to decide the fate of the administrators.

Glenn spoke with Janczewski this morning about the impact this ordeal has had on his family, who have endured a string of vandalism and threats since the verdict was handed down.

Below is a transcript of the interview:

GLENN: John, how are you, sir?

JOHN: I'm doing great. Thank you, Mr. Beck.

GLENN: I'm sorry that we have to meet under these conditions. I would imagine the conversation we had for the last couple of days had to be -- your son has -- did you guys know at all? Did you have any idea at all that this was going on?

JOHN: No. We had no idea at all. I basically, when it first started happening at about 13, 13 and a half years old, I chalked it up to puberty, but as it got worse, I said to myself, going through puberty myself, I was never that bad.

GLENN: What was happening?

JOHN: What was happening is he began to hate me. He began to lash out at me. We had physical battles. I was worthless to him as time went on. And we are a close family, we tell each other we love each other. That all diminished. And it never came back. And it just got worse.

GLENN: Is it back now?

JOHN: It is back now. Now we text and talk at least two to three times a week, maybe sometimes four; where over eight years, he wouldn't even talk to me. He didn't bother to take the time. We were -- we appeared to be a happy family on the outside, but on the inside, we were torn apart and tearing apart. It was horrible. For eight years, I lost my son that I'll never get back for over eight years, some of the best years of his life, growing up I lost, that are gone forever.

GLENN: So I don't want to be the guy that asks you the questions, so feel free -- nobody's going to say a word about you not answering a question and I do not mean to be rude or pry. It is none of our business.

JOHN: Please go ahead.

GLENN: The picture, how did the picture come out?

JOHN: What had happened is somebody sent the picture to the board of education the superintendent, the principal. And they sent it in an e-mail, and then they sent another e-mail, more pictures will follow. And four days before it came out, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

GLENN: Oh, dear God.

JOHN: She was diagnosed and told about it on a Wednesday. On that Sunday back in October, four days after that, the state police were in my driveway and they showed up and they -- when they showed up, they had a picture of our son and asked if that was our son and they stated right there, he was molested by a Rose City Middle School teacher called Neal Erickson.

GLENN: So you had to -- first of all, how is your wife?

JOHN: My wife isn't doing very well. She's been through two breast surgeries. When she did radiation, on her last couple of visits of radiation, they do x-rays each week, and they told her it's in her lungs now.

GLENN: How is her relationship with your son?

JOHN: It's always been okay, but he has lashed out with her, but now her relationship is really well with him. My son and I are trying to open a new chapter and a new book, and try to start all over again.

GLENN: Was your son relieve that had this came out?

JOHN: He was relieved, yes. He's held this inside for eight to nine years. Psychologically, imagine that on a young boy, having to hold that in and be threatened all the time and hold that inside him? What a way to grow up and enjoy the best years of your life.

GLENN: So now there's two parts of the story we have to get to. One is the teachers that came in support, how many people with living in your town?

JOHN: Approximately, I would say 6,000 to 8,000.

GLENN: So it's a small town. And it is a small town school. I would imagine that your values are not New York City values.

JOHN: Right.

GLENN: And these teachers -- it had to be shocking for the teachers to come out and say, well, we don't know. The totality of this teacher's life and career is not so bad.

JOHN: Right.

GLENN: What exactly is the case they're making here?

JOHN: The case they were making is it was a one-time incident, you know, that the child could have stopped it. He was groomed and he was a predator.

GLENN: So the community, they want these teachers fired.

JOHN: Right. Right.

GLENN: They do?

JOHN: Yes, they do. They want the teachers fired, they want Mike Eagan recalled and taken off the board.

GLENN: Who's Mikey?

JOHN: Mike Eagan is a member of the school board. He sat on the molester's side. His wife, Amy Eagan wrote a letter.

GLENN: So tonight at 7:00 at the auditorium -- how do you say the name of your --

JOHN: Ogemaw Heights High School at 7:00 in the auditorium.

GLENN: And there you have to decide the fate. They are saying if you fire these teachers because they will sue, it will bankrupt the town.

JOHN: That's what they are saying, but as a molester, that does not matter. He molested a child.

GLENN: But they will say that it is just their right to free speech, so why should they be punished for free speech? Have we lost him?

Below is a transcript of the interview:

GLENN: We are talking to John Janczewski, he lives in Rose City, Michigan, where tonight they are having a meeting at the auditorium at 7:00 p.m. to decide the fate of teachers who openly supported a pedophile, saying that's an awful long risen sentence for a teacher we all know and love. No, no. We didn't know the whole raping of a child part. Now, they will say they have freedom of speech, it will bankrupt the city because they will all sue, but do you want somebody who says hey, lock, 15 to 30 years for raping of a child, an 8th grader is a little harsh. Do you want them teaching your child? I don't think they have the common sense to do it.

And bankruptcy's all the rage nowadays. So anyway, John is put in this horrible position and it's his son that was raped and there's something else that we have to talk about. You have now been the victim of violence, your family has, John. Can you tell me what happened to your garage?

JOHN: We had some threats on us, and they wrote letters on our house. The letters were YWPITY. You will pay. I told you.

My wife had threats on her right after July 10th sentencing. Then what happened, I called the state police, they said if we have any issues, call us back. Lo and behold, two and a half days later, 1:30 in the morning on a Saturday, I was awaken to a bomb sound going off, and then I went to the window to find my garage was on fire and engulfed in flames. My camper on the side of my house. If I wouldn't have woke up, we could have all died. We could have all not been here doing anything right now. That's what happened?

GLENN: Why would they do that to you? What is your motivation?

JOHN: Because we are speaking out against these teachers, because they're wrong. They took an oath when they did their license to be a teacher and that is to protect the child, and getting back to the money issue, it would bankrupt the county. Since when do we put a price on a child? Since when? It is wrong. How many teachers are going to turn a blind eye? These teachers cannot be trusted, they cannot be trusted.

GLENN: John, I wish I could stand there with you tonight. Mercury 1 is a -- has a charity that I started and we talked to them and normally don't get involved in things like this, but I think one of their founding principles is to bring people hope, and so we are going to take care of your garage and rebuild your garage.

JOHN: That is so awesome. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You know, I've got to tell you something else. Could you believe a church posted bail for him? A church just down from my house, that back in April, he came into where I work and I asked him, I said I'm losing my faith in God. My wife has cancer, I have MS, my son was molested. Can I talk to you. He said I'm going on a cruise for two weeks. I will call you then. It's been an awful long two weeks, hasn't it. And he was in court, sitting on Neal's side, and that church posted bail for a child molester.

GLENN: What church is that?

JOHN: Prince of Peace Church, Father Stonebeck. It's just unbelievable.

GLENN: John, move to Texas. I don't think -- I just don't think I have seen a family kicked in the teeth as much as your family has been kicked in the teeth, but I will tell you this. I'm sure in a town your size, there are -- out of 6,000 people I bet there's 4,000 that stand with you and know what you are going through I don't know John.

JOHN: This community has been so supportive for tonight, they made T-shirts, my son's favorite color, blue, and we are all going to be wearing them and they all say support the Janczewski family. We want all these teachers fired, we want the board member to step down, which he will not. He'd rather cost the school district $30,000 than have him recalled. That's how sick he is. It's just unbelievable. We would like to get out of this as Eagan to step down, fire the teachers, have background checks on teachers and every six months have them go through a training, how to spot signs of a child molestation?

GLENN: You're not asking for lawsuits, money, you're not asking for anything. You just want to make sure -- I mean, they didn't catch it the first time. They didn't catch it with your son. And how they can say it only happen this had one time. How do you know? Did they know this was happening?

JOHN: Yeah. They turned a blind eye. The community asked a question at the last board meeting and they said through the board members, there's six of them, would you want these teachers to teach your grandchildren or your children. All five of them said absolutely not. Mike Eagan grabbed the microphone and said I would have no problem with none of this. I would let them teach my children or grandchildren.

GLENN: I don't know, we will continue to follow the story. And our heart and our prayers go out to you. Just know there are millions of Americans who have heard this story now and will keep you and your family in their prayers. God bless, my friend. We will talk again.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.