Monday, November 07, 2005

Norm Freeman

The US 1976 Olympic sailing team included some names well known to every sailor -- and even to many non-sailors.

Dennis Conner - bronze medal in the Tempest class. Needs no introduction.

John Kolius - silver in the Solings. I had the pleasure of attending one of his clinics a few years ago.

Peter Commette - 11th in the Finns - showed up sailing a Laser this year against us mere mortals at the Laser Masters US Nationals in Annapolis.

Norm Freeman - 6th in the Flying Dutchman in the 1976 Olympics - is a name not perhaps known as widely. I did sail against him at a Laser Masters regatta in Ontario in the early 90s. There was a clinic before the regatta and the young instructors were in awe of him. I recall him as a tough and fair competitor; a gentleman on and off the course.

I was, to say the least, shocked and sickened to read the following about Norm in Scuttlebutt.

* A 73-year-old former Olympic sailor who had faced several molestation charges involving three minor girls was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison after pleading no contest to one of the charges Wednesday. Norman Douglas Freeman was also ordered to serve 23 years of sex offender probation following his release. Assistant State Attorney Vicki Nichols on Friday said prosecutors considered his age and failing health in negotiating the plea deal, which included the state dropping three lewd and lascivious counts. "We are looking at this as a life sentence," Nichols said Friday, adding that the victims' families supported the plea.

Of course our sympathies are with the victims. One always feels revulsion toward the perpetrator when one hears of such crimes. But I cannot help feel some sadness in reading the story of a man who was once an Olympic athlete, and a minor hero in his own world, ending his journey through life in such degradation. He could have become a respected elder statesman of the sport like some of his illustrious contemporaries. Instead his story ends in disgrace and, one assumes, a miserable and frightening punishment. Perhaps repentance? Who knows?

Part of me wants to believe that this court case is about some other man with the same name. Not the smart aggressive sailor I jousted with over a decade ago. But I have to assume that the reporting is accurate. We think we know the characters of the people that we race against but really we only see one small slice of the human being.

I guess it just goes to show you never know who you can trust.

Take care parents.


the skip said...

It is a sad thing that such atrocities can be inflicted on our youth. It is also sad that you have once held him in such hig regard and now because of his actions must lower your expectations of him.

Hopefully he will ge the help he needs and understands how his actions impacted the children. My sympathies and support go to the families and children who are the victims.

I am well aware of the dangers lurking out there for my children. All I can hope is that when I am not there they have the courage and street smarts to thwart any potential threats.

Agree and emphasize your point...parents take care.

hobbes said...

Ouch - that's really horrible. Hubby is an Olympic sailor too. I suppose I'll have to keep a close eye >:-)

Tillerman said...

Looks like it wasn't the equivalent of a "life sentence." In 2015 Freeman was arrested again for "violation of probation, lewd or lascivious molestation."

Martin County felony arrests

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