What I Said During the TEDx Talk: Have You Ever Met a Monster? Part I

Note from Amy: A woman contacted me the other day and said she would love to have the transcript of what I said during my TEDx talk.

So as not to overwhelm readers, I will post it in excerpts, starting with this first one:

Have you ever met a monster? someone so scary they alerted the reptilian part of your brain?

One morning as I was going to my job as a criminal justice reporter in Denver, I stepped into a crowded elevator, faced front and got the sense someone behind me in that was watching me. I glanced over my shoulder to see this man staring at me in a very calculating way, with cold shark eyes. So I stared back—and my look said, Rude person! and he didn’t drop his eyes, so I ended that contest and turned back around, alarm bells sounding in my head. I instantly decided I didn’t want him to know which floor was mine, so at the next stop just before the doors came together I darted out at the last minute, and then I flew up the stairs and ran into the newsroom, my heart pounding.

The fear of monsters is instinctive.

In Denver in 2005 reports of a serial rapist had residents so frightened some were carrying baseball bats.

Police released his name, Brent Brents, and the media scrambled to find out whatever we could on this guy. A reporter at the rival newspaper got Brents’ sister in Arkansas on the phone, and she said, “He deserves whatever he gets” before hanging up. One sentence, but, we’d been scooped!

Get thee on a plane to Arkansas, my editors said. Find his family, and get them to talk. So I did. Brent’ mother described him as willful, intelligent. He had grown up hunting and fishing, ran track, wrestled, boxed. He had a learning disorder, and became frustrated, then angry, in school. He started smoking pot and drinking at age 10, and that’s when he began beating his mother. When he was 13 he pulled a switch on a railroad track and was sent to juvenile detention, where he was in and out until the age of 18 when he was convicted of raping two children. He served sixteen years in prison before being released without supervision.

His sister mentioned that Brent had a lot of anger toward their father, who had died the year before.

So I turned to the mom and said, I’m sorry to ask, but this is a standard question when someone sexually abuses others. Was Brent ever abused as a child?

There was a long pause. And then looking down she said, Brent makes up all kinds of lies.

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