I actually started writing about the documentary Just Melvin, Just Evil?– a story about generational sexual abuse — about eight months ago. It’s an important piece, but I had to put it down. I just didn’t have the stomach for it. Honestly, I still don’t.
But it’s important…so I’ll finish this story for you guys.?People need to see this. People need to understand.
The documentary is about a man named Melvin Just, a man who is more evil than many of us could ever imagine. Filmed by James Ronald Whitney, one of Melvin Just’s step-grandsons, it’s one of the most disturbing documentaries you’ll ever watch.
Melvin Just sexually abused and molested three families of young girls, even his own biological children. Everyone knew what he was doing — everyone knew about the sexual abuse. No one seemed to care, or at least not care enough to put a stop to it. It was even commonly known that he murdered a social worker who was looking into the sexual abuse. Everyone knew he did this. Again, no one did anything about it.
I think this hits me in the gut because it hits too close to home. In the town I grew up in in rural Arkansas, the mindset was very similar to what we see in this documentary. We all knew which girls were “f*cking their daddies,” who was having their dad’s baby, etc…Disgusting. Disturbing.
Why do people allow this sexual abuse to go on? Why was nothing done? When I asked this question of people I knew — about a special needs girl in our school who got pregnant by her dad — the answer was:
“The coaches did something about it! They got her on birth control!”
I’m tormented by memories of this girl. I was there. I could have (maybe) done something. I was just a kid, too. I’ll have forever etched into my mind a vision of all of us girls sitting behind her at a pep rally. One of my friends put her wrist to her nose and laughed, indicating that the young woman in front of us — the one pregnant with her daddy’s baby — smelled badly.
We did nothing. I wish I had reached out to her. I wish I had been the person who gave her a smile and a hug.
Some highlights of the Melvin Just sexual abuse story:
- He paid his own special needs daughter if she let him penetrate her. If he got it a quarter of the way in, she would get 25 cents. Halfway in would earn her?50 cents. All the way in? You guessed it! A full dollar.
- He put BenGay on his penis and penetrated one of the little girl.
- It started with crayons. He instructed them to stick the crayons inside themselves and to let him know when they could get three or four inside them.
- He also pimped them out to strange men for money, and even took photos while this was happening.
- They have all been suicidal. Many of them are homeless. All of them are tormented.
- One stepdaughter said “He would tie two cats together and hang them over a clothesline — that’s the kind of character he had.”
They seem to deal with their memories of the sexual abuse with humor. The funeral scene is surreal and hysterical — and not hysterical in a good way. It’s not at all funny. The girls started talking about his sexual abuse at his funeral. The preacher said:
“OK let’s have some good memories. Can someone come and kinda control what’s happening here?”
Melvin Just was finally charged with 12 counts of child molestation and sexual abuse. He was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years. He only served eight years.
When he was killing the social worker, the little girl in the bedroom looked out into the living room and saw him humping on the woman as he was killing her.
Towards the end of the documentary, James Whitney brings all of the girls to the nursing home to see Melvin Just. One of the girls?runs to him in the nursing home and throws her arms around him, saying “That’s my Daddy!”
His last wife said this:
“Everybody has their faults.”
She took him blueberry pancakes every week until he died.
The abuse never ended. Elderly Melvin Just molested his disabled daughter two years before the filming of this documentary. He took her into the woods on her birthday. He knew she couldn’t run. One leg was fused and the other was in a brace. He gave her a dollar because he got it all the way in.
The video ends with the Whitney saying this:
“He just goes on as if nothing ever happened. Grandma and Vernice say ‘that’s just Melvin,’ but I’ll never let him forget what he did to my mom or to the rest of my?family.”
Below?is a 10-minute highlights?version of the video. The full video is below this one. It will be hard for most of you to watch, but watch it we must. What I do is “lean into the pain” with stories about sexual abuse and other things like this. I need to hear it, I need to feel it. This is the only way I can make sense of it and hopefully, in some small way, make a dent in this kind of evil. Creating awareness is the resource I have, so I’ll do that.
You can’t un-see these people’s faces. You can’t un-hear these words.