Lester The Molester
I attended public schools growing up, which wasn’t as bad as some people would have you believe. At least it wasn’t out in the far suburbs of Chicago where the streets were more likely to be teeming with cows than gang members. I had my share of good teachers, a couple of them I’d go so far as to call excellent. Most of the teachers were competent, but average. They got the job done, kept control of the class, and managed to make sure that you left with a little more knowledge in your head than you came in with. But you take the good along with the bad: I also had a fifth grade teacher who was horribly inept and lazy, and an eighth grade teacher who was a living nightmare. That nightmare was called Lester the Molester.
Lester was a math teacher in our local junior high school. An ugly, short man with a ruddy complexion and a body turning soft, Lester started off each school year with the same pop quiz he gave every year. “As this is a math class, we’ll start off with a quiz about numbers. Who can tell me the significance of the number 1?” Students would raise their hand to answer that the number one was the first positive integer, or the first prime number, or some other obvious thing.
After letting the students guess for five minutes, he’d reveal with a flourish that the number one stood for the United States Army 1st Infantry Division, otherwise known as the Big Red One. He’d regale the class with the exploits of this legendary fighting force, how it fought in Africa in WWII, crawled inch by bloody inch up the coast of Italy, and then blasted into Europe to finish off the Germans in the invasion of Normandy.
When he told this story to my class, one of the students in the front row asked him, “Did you fight in World War II?” “Haven’t you been listening to me? The Big Red One, US Army, 1st infantry division! Write that down, it’ll probably be on a test.” Anyone with half a brain in his head knew that this was utter bullshit. Assuming Lester was 50, that would’ve made him 8 when hostilities started.
The next day, Lester walked the aisles to visually inspect everyone’s homework assignment. As far as I was ever able to determine, he wasn’t interested in whether or not you got the correct answer, just that you did every problem and showed your work. If you didn’t, then you knew about it as a classmate named Phil found out on that second day of class.
Lester: I assigned ten problems, you only did nine.
Phil: I did? (looks at paper) I… I guessed I must have missed one.
Lester: You must have missed one… That’s right, you must have just missed one… Oops! I missed one. YOU SOUND LIKE A MALINGERER TO ME! YOU DON’T JUST MISS ONE! YOU GET LAZY AND DECIDE NOT TO DO ONE! WHICH IS IT? WELL? WHICH IS IT?
Phil: I… I… I don’t know…
Lester: YOU DON’T KNOW? WELL LET ME TELL YOU! YOU ARE LAZY, AND I WILL NOT TOLERATE LAZY STUDENTS IN MY CLASSROOM. GO TO THE OFFICE!
Now if that sounds like an extremely nutty outburst for a teacher to have on the second day of class, you’re right. But it was made so, so much weirder by what happened next.
Lester: Where is your homework uhhh.. (looks at seating chart) Jill. Where is your homework, Jill?
Jill: I… I… I… I…
Lester: Did you forget to do it?
Lester: That’s ok, Jill, you’re very pretty.
With that, lightbulbs went off over the heads of every student in the room. Lester didn’t like boys, but he loved little girls. At first the girls felt like they were getting the better end of the deal: Pop quizzes would turn into opportunities to give the girls Snicker bars for “trying so very hard”, while boys would get a dismissive nod for a correct answer if they were lucky, or else a sneer and a sarcastic, “Nice job, suck-up” if they weren’t. And if a boy got out of line in any way, he’d be sent to the office in a lunatic, red-faced screaming tirade, but arriving at the office, the secretary would smile and say, “Got kicked out of math class, huh? Ok, go hang out in the library until the bell rings.” It seemed that the office knew about Lester’s quirks as well and didn’t feel inclined to punish boys for something that wasn’t their fault.
But after a while, the girls started finding the attention a little unnerving. Questions about square roots starting coming with follow-up questions: “Good job, Nancy. Did your boyfriend help you with your studies? You do have a boyfriend, don’t you? I mean, a pretty young girl like you with such a pretty face and a pretty body. I bet your boyfriend is crazy about you!” The beginning of every class seemed more like a fashion show, with Lester commenting on everything from clothing, to hair, to how well certain girls were filling out their sweaters.
By the time the second semester rolled around, Lester was being openly referred to as Lester the Molester (although not to his face). By now the boys had learned the ropes in Lester’s class: Do your homework and keep your mouth shut, and you’ll do fine. The girls, however, were increasingly starting to dread the class. I knew of at least five girls who discussed telling the principal about Lester’s behavior, but the general feeling was that while he was acting a little creepy, he didn’t really do anything other than say nice things.
And right about this time, things started to turn for the worse. It started when Lester chased two girls into the girl’s bathroom while yelling “No running in the hall! No running in the hall!” To be fair, the girls were running, and they did run into the girl’s bathroom to get away from Lester (smart girls). Lester denied doing anything other than grabbing the girls’ arms and pulling them out of the bathroom, but the girls claimed he had opened all of the (thankfully empty) stalls looking for accomplices.
And Lester’s behavior in class became more aggressive as well. One day he looked at a girl, a common target of his affections, and said to her, “You look very pretty wearing that dress, Sandy. I wonder how pretty you look without it?” Sandy picked up her books and ran to the office in tears. “Women…” Lester said as he rolled his eyes. Even then I remember thinking to myself, “Not women, little girls you asshole.”
Amazingly, Sandy was told by the principal that “Lester has some issues, but we can’t get rid of him. So just get your work done and be quiet in class.” Sandy was one of the five girls who had discussed talking to the principal, and now the other four came forward as well. They were told the same thing.
Lester also began playing a game with the girls that he had long played with the boys. You’d find yourself spacing out, and he would catch you off guard by barking a question at you. “GREG! DO YOU WANT TO STAY WITH ME?” This was a trick question. If you interpreted the question to mean, “Do you want to pay attention and stay with me while I teach you?” you answered yes. “Fine! Since you want to stay with me, you can stay in detention after school.”
If, however, you interpreted the question to mean, “Do you want to stay with me after school?” you answered no. And then Lester would say, “IF YOU CANNOT STAY WITH ME WHILE I AM TEACHING YOU, YOU CAN JUST GO TO THE OFFICE YOU INGRATE! YOU LOUSY PIECE OF GARBAGE! GET OUT OF HERE NOW!” After having seen it a few times, most boys just said no and calmly walked to the office, knowing they’d wind up in the library.
Now, suddenly, the girls found themselves playing this game. Most of the girls opted to go to the office, but some of the more bashful girls did not want to get yelled at and tried to reason their way free. “I want to pay attention in class, if that’s what you’re asking.” “It is not what I am asking. But as I have a class to teach, I cannot spend time explaining myself further. We can talk about it in detention after school.”
About a month after this started happening, I noticed that a classmate had stopped showing up for class, although I had seen her in school. “Hey, where’s Beth?” I asked a friend of hers in class. “Shhh! Be quiet! Are you crazy?” she hissed back. After class she explained that she “would die before being caught talking about Beth in front of Lester the Molester.”
“You have to promise not to repeat this.” She said. Beth had been caught in Lester’s “Stay With Me” game and had detention. When she showed up, Lester apologized to her and said that it was all a misunderstanding and that she was free to go. “I wish you would have told me that earlier,” Beth replied. “Now I’ve missed my bus.” “I’m sorry about that. But if you can give me five minutes, I can drive you home.”
Beth’s friend explained that on the way home, Beth had instructed Lester to take a right, which he ignored as he pulled into an empty subdivision. “You missed the turn, you needed to go right!” Lester then pulled the car over and said, “We’re going my way.” He then power-locked the door and reached for Beth, as she popped the lock and ran from the car, running across snowy fields until she got home.
I never did find out if the police were involved, but apparently Lester claimed it was a misunderstanding. The school, no doubt fearing legal complications, vouched for his character, and assuring Beth’s parents that the safety of students was paramount, simply moved Beth to another class. Beth, understandably for a girl of 13, decided she’d rather not have this be a topic of discussion at school and only told a select few people. Incredibly, this story stayed more or less buried.
Lester finally pushed his luck too far, about three years after I left for high school. Trying to break up a pile of rowdy and enthusiastic boys wrestling on the floor of the cafeteria, he wound up falling into the pile. Screaming at the top of his lungs, his face that familiar shade of crimson, he began throwing punches at anyone within arms reach. “GET OFF OF ME YOU GODDAMN FUCKING BASTARDS!” It seems that you can try to fuck the students in private, and you can try to psychologically damage them in public, but one thing you could not do at the time was physically damage students in public. He was “forced” to retire at 100% of his pension.
I don’t know what became of Lester after that. I once witnessed his wife picking him up at school, and it was obvious who wore the pants in that family. “Lester! Come along! I don’t have all day to wait on you!” Barked his wife. “Yes, dear” was his meek reply. I honestly think Lester, subconsciously striking back at his shrewish wife, tried to damage young girls. It probably gave him a sense of control in a life that offered him little besides a teacher’s salary, apathetic kids, and a domineering wife. That, and he was a giant fuckface.
Because, let’s not mince words here, anyone who fucks with kids’ heads in that fashion is sick. Anyone who does it as a pretext to molesting 13 year old girls is more than sick: They are diseased of mind and spirit and deserve to be put down like a rabid dog. And I’m not too sure that I wouldn’t include the school administrators in that assessment. There were numerous signs that they were dealing with a dangerous individual just in the year that I was in his class and kids from other classes confirmed that he always behaved this way. Yet, fearing discipline, litigation, and the teacher’s union they did nothing.
How many kids did this sick fuck scar for life? If he was that aggressive, I’ve got to imagine he’d occasionally get his hands on a young girl. Did it happen once? Three times? Ten? Twenty? It doesn’t matter. The fact that he tried at all was a crime, and the fact that the school knew about it and covered it up was arguably worse.
1983 seems a lifetime ago. Many, many things in our world have changed since then, some for the worse, some very much for the better. Sadly, we read of sex charges being brought up against teachers almost daily, yet charges being brought at all is a good thing, a change for the better. But in 1983, we still clung to the belief that teachers were a different breed, securing our future by nurturing the minds of our youth and quenching their thirst for knowledge with logic, and wisdom, and patience, and experience, and joy.
Now we know, of course, that while many teachers do, in fact, meet that high and lofty ideal, we’ve got some assholes in the mix. No longer can we automatically assume our kids are safe in school. Parents must lose their innocence so that their children may retain theirs.
Sadly, disgustingly, there are teachers that use their power to harm children. A school district near me just had a sitution where a student finally came forward to say he was abused, and quickly after so did a number of other kids, and it was not one but two teachers involved. I’m sorry, but this whole ‘suspended with pay’, ‘forced retirement with pension’ stuff is bullshit.
There are wonderful and gifted teachers out there too, and I hope they outnumber the bad seeds.
Yeah, it was 1983, so the forced retirement doesn’t surprise me. These days, I’d be surprised if he would get away with the same behavior. Instead of being afraid of being sued for having it happen in the first place, the school would probably be afraid of being sued for not acting.
When the Catholic church shelters sick fucks we lambast them, so why not teachers? I’m a teacher and I’ll be the first to bring light to this issue – in fact, it’s part of my job. It doesn’t reflect poorly on other teachers, it reflects poorly on administrators who for some reason haven’t felt the need to consider that some men seek positions of authority over children for sick reasons. And that’s a horrible failing on the part of the administrators – since it’s so obviously something that’s part of their job.
Those administrators should be locked up and the teacher shot. That’s my gut reaction. I don’t support capital punishment but at the same time I would have no problem with a ninja-swat team of renegade assassins against pedophiles, so I have to reconcile those two things I suppose. The recidivism rate for pedophiles is ridiculous – almost 90%. Medical castration doesn’t work. I don’t think I’d blink an eye if pricks like this were shot. I wouldn’t smile or rejoice, because that’s sick too. But I sure as shit wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
As you know, I had multiple teachers like this. And the administrators didn’t do diddly dick about it. In fact they betrayed us. When a child tells an authority figure that someone is bothering them – they should be able to trust the authority figure to trust them, not to turn them around, send them back to the teacher, and then tell the teacher what was said. Assholes should not retire or be suspended with pay. They should be fired and prosecuted for endangering the lives and psychological well being of children.
Anyway, thanks for being a site in which I can curse. And this was a great post.
No fucking problem, Pish! We’re all about the motherfuckin’ cursing here!
But don’t get me started on the Catholic Church, who has yet to realize that taking a bunch of 18 year old guys,, confining them to a seminary where contact with others is discouraged, and then telling them that their sexual urges are sinful FUCKING WARPS PEOPLE!
The sickos are everywhere and always will be, but we should have better systems in place and leaders with the balls to handle the bad situations when they occur.
Yes, I’d prefer to see someone stand up and say, “You know what? Fuck getting sued, this is wrong!” They are out there, but there aren’t as many as there needs to be.
so fucking gross. And – at least as far as our generation is concerned- it never really ends, until you start to lose your looks, that is.
No, I am not insinuating I had a Lester the molester, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that they exist everywhere.
Until the looks are gone? Don’t Google “sexual abuse at retirement homes”… You’ll be upset.
No kidding. I used to work with a sexual assault/domestic violence shelter. Victims young and old, women and men. Oldest? Ninety-fucking-three. Youngest? 2 weeks. I FUCKING HATE PEOPLE.
Not you guys.
But, you know.
It is a real shame that people with the authority still do nothing in the face of complaints and evidence.
All for what? Image? Who’s image? The schools image or image of the administrator who made a mistake in hiring people with obvious problems?
I think awareness has gotten better, but we still have a long way to go.
My homeroom teacher in 8th grade managed to get fired in 9 weeks.
It was metals shop class, and Mr Whitaker just turned us –35 boys– loose. We were supposed to build something of our own choice. One incorrigible delinquent chose to make some brass knuckles, and Mr Whitaker advised him how to go about it.
The students deliberately twisted thousands of dollars worth of bar stock into pretzels, simply due to lack of supervision. Our access to soldering irons, drill presses, lathes, an arc welder and a blast furnace probably meant that someone was going to get maimed or killed sooner or later unless they replaced him.
This was my first encounter with an adult who Just. Did. Not. Give. A. Fuck.
Yeah, metal shop has the potential for some really bad shit to go down. In my high school, a person wanted to make a sword, but the teacher (who was a bust out alcoholic) wouldn’t let him. “I don’t think you’re going to hurt anyone with it. But look around… You think one of these yahoos won’t grab it from you and start swinging it around? Not on my watch, bub.”
I’m glad you shared this story. I had a few teachers who were questionable, but mine were in highschool, not jr high. I can remember the drunk, the skeevy one and the one that was abusive because he had just given up and was waiting for his pension. I never understood why the school allowed these people to be in positions of authority with kids.
Well, probably because they didn’t start out that way, and by the time it became apparent that they were no longer ideal teachers, it was just easier to leave things be.
Things have certainly changed for the better in this regard. If a teacher here spoke or behaved in anything like as overtly as your Lester did they’d be in trouble very quickly. This has led to some abuse by students of teachers, who can ‘smear’ with innuendo.
Back when I were a wee lad, I had some horrible teachers, and a couple of really great ones. Most just didn’t care all that much and some were outright weird. I had one economics teacher who used to rub her camel toe on the top of a chair back as she taught, and I often wonder if she was able to get herself off doing it. Sometimes it seemed like she did. Boys and girls were both entranced watching. I bet she thought no one knew. As if.
We also had this married couple who could have been Lester and wife. They were never quite as overt as yours was, but they were a really seedy couple whom I reckon were into showering together and other such fun. He looked like an oiled rat with dark deep set twitchy eyes, balding and seemed to project his sleezy thoughts a radius of several metres. She was taller than him, and was sort of attractive in an odd way, like she could have starred in 70’s Eastern European prison porn where she had her way with various inmates, talking in a gutteral way, saying ‘you luuv zis’ as they screamed. I never had either as a teacher, but I remember them well and they were the topic of much discussion in the quad.
Your description of Lester being picked up, reminded me of some old Floyd lyrics.
“By pouring their derision
Upon anything we did
And exposing every weakness
However carefully hidden by the kids
But in the town, it was well known
When they got home at night, their fat and
Psychopathic wives would thrash them
Within inches of their lives.”
I had two truly great teachers in High School. A Mrs Waterhouse who taught me how great maths is. I still love it and being a nerdy engineer type today is I’m sure in large part because of her – I never leave home without an RPN calculator. Mr Nixon taught English in my last couple of years at HS. He loved literature and would explain the stories of authors and why they were inspired to write what they did. Shakespeare he got us to read aloud in part, spent classes showing old movie versions on Macbeth (on fillum) and even organised for us to see it performed live and to speak with the director and cast, and it made sense and was, fucking incredibly, interesting. I reckon I owe the reading of about 10k books to him in the years since.
I have a friend who is a high school teacher, and students accusing teachers of wrongdoing out of spite is a very real problem.