Revenge Not Taken: The Better Path?

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Four years later, Holthouse is now married and is a writer and editor for the Southern Poverty Law Center, where his words and stories seek to expose klansmen, neo-Nazis and other purveyors of hatred. He is still sought out by victims of child rape. He tells them revenge is their right…and maybe even their duty.

"Not only do you have the right," he says, "but arguably, you have the obligation to exact some form of revenge on the person who sexually assaulted you when you were a kid. Because you have that same special, critical knowledge that I had. You know, beyond any doubt, the identity of a kiddie rapist."

What Holthouse is willing to offer is what he calls "conditional forgiveness." He wrote a second letter to the man who raped him.

"If you were telling me the truth when you said I was the only one, then I accept your apology and I offer you my forgiveness, and I wish you the best of luck. If you were lying, then God help you, because you're going down."

Was running that story a more satisfying way to deal with what had happened to him than killing this man would have been? "Definitely," Holthouse says. "I think it did more good for a lot of other people. I think it did more good for myself. And that's a relief."

This report originally ran on Feb. 2, 2007.

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