When St. Cloud’s culture and history are exposed, patterns of depravity become disgustingly evident and predictably criminal. In the community where the term “Stearns County Syndrome” originated (referring to accepted child abuse via father-daughter incest), unfortunately maltreatment of females, prostitution and sex trafficking resulted. (“Judge finds man guilty of trafficking;” St. Cloud Times, January 21, 2016; “Man pleads guilty to sex trafficking;” St. Cloud Times, August 25, 2016)
After officially supporting slavery, then carefully ignoring 163 years of racism, sexism and incest, suddenly the St. Cloud Times claims to be shocked about sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is criminal and despicable but reveals community priorities. Sex trafficking reports by the Times are intended to divert attention from pathological racism, general community dysfunction and methamphetamine dependence. (“Local drug of choice still meth;” St. Cloud Times, June 15, 2014; “Sex trafficking: The victims next door;” St. Cloud Times, July 21, 2016; “Step up and help stop ‘paid rapes;’” St. Cloud Times, July 24, 2016)
The Times published mug photos of six Black and 74 White local sex trafficking clients, but ignored City Hall’s racist website and outdoor advertising boards displaying mug photos of only Black men. Although 90 percent of those wanted were White, only Black faces appeared. (“Website photos draw criticism;” St. Cloud Times, September 29, 2007)
Despite frantic denials of “Stearns County Syndrome,” published statements from an International Leadership Forum discussion produced the following testimony: “I was once told by a group of social workers in Minneapolis about what they called ‘the Stearns County Syndrome.’ The social workers claimed that in that county 75 percent of the families are involved in incest, usually father-daughter, and usually with the consent of the mother. The rationale, apparently, is that since divorce is so taboo, it was a way of keeping the family together when the father tired of having sex with the mother. They said that it led to a stream of young, blonde girls from Stearns County entering into prostitution, first in Minneapolis, and from there to New York.” (International Leaders Forum; ILF Digest: September 2003)
Child abuse, general crime, incest, racism, sexism and sex trafficking are as integral to St. Cloud’s character and environment as Mississippi River water. Those conditions were carefully hidden through desperate denials and secrecy until federal agents and intrusive outside news reporters were tipped. (“Sexual assaults on the rise;” University Chronicle, April 8, 2012; “Letter: SCSU fails to protect female students;” St. Cloud Times, July 30, 2014; “Sex assault reports up at SCSU; “St. Cloud Times, October 27, 2016)
Recently, a 20-year-old woman walking near Lake George, between downtown St. Cloud and SCSU’s campus, was repeatedly slashed by a knife-wielding White male. Are there connections between frequent attacks on females and sex trafficking or are females simply the preferred targets of opportunity like Blacks/Muslims/Somalis? (“St. Cloud police investigating knife attack near Lake George;” WJON, August 10, 2016) Despite losing racial discrimination and sex equity lawsuits, SCSU has lost about 3,000 students, mostly of color, since 2012. Such losses are misleadingly explained as “right-sizing.”
No wonder St. Cloud can’t attract new businesses or Minnesota Vikings training camps. Many students of color avoid St. Cloud and SCSU by enrolling at Minnesota State University-Mankato, a far safer and more accepting community and university. (“As enrollment falls, SCSU focuses on grad rates more;” St. Cloud Times, April 28, 2014)
Myrle Cooper is retired from SCSU but continues to closely monitor racism and expose a community resisting change. He welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.