May 20, 2005

Advent of Abuse


by Laurel Chesky

It’s difficult to watch a grown man cry.

It’s downright gut-wrenching to watch a man like Michael Weston cry. Broad-faced, strong-jawed, with intense eyes shaded by thick eyebrows and his baseball cap on backwards, Weston personifies tough. He’s also articulate and expressive. His entire face engages when he speaks. He squints to stress a point. He lilts and tosses his head, Bill-Murray-esque, to punctuate the irony of a statement. His eyes burn incredulous as he recalls painful memories. And he cries. Big, unrelenting tears flow down his face when he talks about it.

“He grabbed my hand with incredible force; he was actually pretty strong,” Weston says. “I remember he had strong forearms, and he grabbed my hand and he placed my hand … [here’s where Weston breaks down and begins to cry] … he placed my hand on his genitals and he started to—he was already erect and he was already excited and I didn’t know what to do and he had such an iron grip on my hand—he started masturbating himself with my hand. And then I started to fight and told him to stop, and I got very upset and started to stiffen up and started to squeeze on him a little bit, and he didn’t like that and he got very angry. Mr. Wittlake violently tore away my pants or underwear or whatever I was wearing and he tried, you know, he put his mouth on me and tried to get me aroused, and … I wasn’t at all aroused. What went through my mind at the time was, ‘Oh my God, he knows about Nelson and he’s pissed off that Nelson got me first.’ He, uh, then he just started, he started, you know, he just, you know, he just, fucked, he fucked me, like that.”

Welcome to Weston’s nightmare.

Weston attended high school at Monterey Bay Academy in La Selva Beach, for just one semester back in the 1980s. But that was plenty of time for two teachers, Ron Wittlake and Lowell Nelson, to repeatedly sexually molest Weston, according to Weston’s testimony and a complaint filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Monterey Bay Academy is run by the Central California Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Weston, now in his late thirties, was born into a devout Adventist family and grew up a faithful Adventist. His father is a pastor in the church.

Posted by kshaw at May 20, 2005 04:00 PM