Blog, online commenters force arrest of alleged child molester

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Blog, online commenters force arrest of alleged child molester

By John Ruberry

Online com­men­ta­tors, par­tic­u­larly those on blogs, are known for their vit­riol and some­times cur­sory devo­tion to the truth.

But the accu­mu­la­tion of com­ments on a since-​pulled online ver­sion of an arti­cle from a free weekly news­pa­per and a blog have led to the indict­ment on child molesta­tion charges of a 94 year-​old retired sub­ur­ban Chicago phys­i­cal edu­ca­tion teacher and for­mer Boy Scout leader, William Bricker, who now resides in north­ern Michigan.

The unrav­el­ing of his rep­u­ta­tion began in 2005 when the Glen Arbor Sun of Grand Tra­verse County Michi­gan pub­lished a hagio­graphic human inter­est piece on Bricker, which included his rec­ol­lec­tions of com­bat in World War II and his sum­mers as a coun­selor at a Wyoming sum­mer camp near Grand Teton National Park, titled Old Cow­boy, New Tricks: Lessons from Bill Bricker’s Adven­tur­ous Life. Com­ments, some vaguely accusatory, some sup­port­ive of Bricker, began appear­ing on the Sun’s web­site. But after the arrest of for­mer Penn State defen­sive coor­di­na­tor Jerry San­dusky for numer­ous molesta­tion and rapes in 2011, the com­ments became more numer­ous and nastier.

Judy Lin­klater, who writes Mrs. Linklater’s Guide to the Uni­verse blog, had her sus­pi­cions about Bricker, took the lead on the story – although the estab­lish­ment media has mostly ignored her efforts – after the Sun yanked the arti­cle from its web­site in 2012. Her half-​brothers had noticed Bricker’s odd behav­ior. The gym teacher’s overly affec­tion­ate actions around chil­dren, both male and female, for years had raised eye­brows in Win­netka, Illi­nois, where Bricker taught and where Lin­klater was raised.

Accu­sa­tions of Bricker’s inap­pro­pri­ate con­tact with stu­dents at Hub­bards Wood Ele­men­tary School, where he was employed as a teacher and then a sub­sti­tute for over 40 years, go back to the 1950s and school offi­cials were aware of them in 1968.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_60205” align=“alignright” width=“232”]Grand Teton National Park Grand Teton National Park[/caption]

But the statute of lim­i­ta­tions in Illi­nois on such crimes pre­vents charges against Bricker in Illi­nois, but that is not the case in Wyoming. Bricker was arrested in Sep­tem­ber–he’s accused of molest­ing boys at the Wyoming sum­mer camp in 1962 and 1985. The 1992 Win­netka Cham­ber of Com­merce Man of the Year, who now breathes with the aid of oxy­gen tanks, is fight­ing extra­di­tion to Wyoming.

Lin­klater did more than blog, she reached out to the alleged vic­tims and she has been the lead reporter on the Bricker story – she’s a true journalist.

Other than their sta­tus as alleged vic­tims of Bricker, there is a com­mon link they share. Each thought they were alone–only they were report­edly harmed by him. They weren’t – when these emotionally-​scarred indi­vid­u­als typed “Win­netka” and “Bricker” into an inter­net search box they dis­cov­ered oth­ers who also have repul­sive mem­o­ries of the Old Cowboy.

UPDATE Jan­u­ary 11, 2015: AP is report­ing that Bricker died in Michi­gan two days ago.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Online commentators, particularly those on blogs, are known for their vitriol and sometimes cursory devotion to the truth.

But the accumulation of comments on a since-pulled online version of an article from a free weekly newspaper and a blog have led to the indictment on child molestation charges of a 94 year-old retired suburban Chicago physical education teacher and former Boy Scout leader, William Bricker, who now resides in northern Michigan.

The unraveling of his reputation began in 2005 when the Glen Arbor Sun of Grand Traverse County Michigan published a hagiographic human interest piece on Bricker, which included his recollections of combat in World War II and his summers as a counselor at a Wyoming summer camp near Grand Teton National Park, titled Old Cowboy, New Tricks: Lessons from Bill Bricker’s Adventurous Life. Comments, some vaguely accusatory, some supportive of Bricker, began appearing on the Sun’s website. But after the arrest of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky for numerous molestation and rapes in 2011, the comments became more numerous and nastier.

Judy Linklater, who writes Mrs. Linklater’s Guide to the Universe blog, had her suspicions about Bricker, took the lead on the story–although the establishment media has mostly ignored her efforts–after the Sun yanked the article from its website in 2012. Her half-brothers had noticed Bricker’s odd behavior. The gym teacher’s overly affectionate actions around children, both male and female, for years had raised eyebrows in Winnetka, Illinois, where Bricker taught and where Linklater was raised.

Accusations of Bricker’s inappropriate contact with students at Hubbards Wood Elementary School, where he was employed as a teacher and then a substitute for over 40 years, go back to the 1950s and school officials were aware of them in 1968.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

But the statute of limitations in Illinois on such crimes prevents charges against Bricker in Illinois, but that is not the case in Wyoming. Bricker was arrested in September–he’s accused of molesting boys at the Wyoming summer camp in 1962 and 1985. The 1992 Winnetka Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, who now breathes with the aid of oxygen tanks, is fighting extradition to Wyoming.

Linklater did more than blog, she reached out to the alleged victims and she has been the lead reporter on the Bricker story–she’s a true journalist.

Other than their status as alleged victims of Bricker, there is a common link they share. Each thought they were alone–only they were reportedly harmed by him. They weren’t–when these emotionally-scarred individuals typed “Winnetka” and “Bricker” into an internet search box they discovered others who also have repulsive memories of the Old Cowboy.

UPDATE January 11, 2015: AP is reporting that Bricker died in Michigan two days ago.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.