NEW YORK – Count Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly among the millions of people who are outraged that a Michigan teachers union is fighting to secure a $10,000 severance payment for a former teacher who is now in prison for molesting a student over a three-year period.
O’Reilly recently interviewed John and Lori Janczewski, the parents of the teenage boy who was repeatedly assaulted by Neal Erickson, who served as a math teacher and local union president in the West Branch-Rose City school district.
The Janczewskis told O’Reilly that they were satisfied with the 30-year sentence that Erickson received in July, but were shocked at the sentencing hearing when a group of teachers who worked with Erickson openly sided with him, and wrote the judge asking for leniency.
“We thought, on … that sentencing date, we would have closure,” John Janczewski told O’Reilly. “But on that day we stood in the hallway of the courtroom, but unbeknownst to my wife or myself, (Erickson’s) colleagues, seven to 10 of them, walked by us in the hallway, glared at us and sat on Neal Erickson’s side of the courtroom.”
John Janczewski said it was “another slap in the face” to learn that the Michigan Education Association, Erickson’s union, has filed a grievance against the school board for rejecting a $10,000 early retirement bonus for Erickson. The bonus was offered by the district to the staff after Erickson had already been arrested, charged and suspended from his job.
“Unbelievable,” O’Reilly said of the union’s actions.
The Janczewskis explained that their son is now doing much better as he finishes his senior year at Western Michigan University. But they also described how the boy’s attitude toward them changed for years, in the form of inexplicable hostility.
“I lost my son for nine years,” John Janczewski said. “He hated me. He despised me. There was nothing I could do right for him. And it killed me. I loved him, and I lost him. And now we are starting to, at least, have somewhat of a relationship, but the anger is still there.”
O’Reilly reacted by directing a statement to the victim:
“He is going to watch this segment tonight, and he has got to know how much you love him,” O’Reilly said. “I’m telling him right now, I’m telling him, that you guys could not have possibly – could not possibly have prevented this. This was just a tragedy that he had to endure. And that you are good parents, that you are going on national television now trying to right a terrible wrong, telling a story that’s very difficult to tell, all because you love your son and don’t want this to happen to any other son.”
O’Reilly concluded with a message for the teachers union who is fighting on the criminal’s behalf:
“We are watching you, and we strongly suggest you drop this entire matter, and provide as much support as you can to the Janczewski family. We strongly suggest that.”