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Stunned

United States

#21 Aug 11, 2011
A flip off of his desk? What was He, 12? Come on. Showing off for middle school girls? Yeah, He did it.
Thehermit

Garfield, NJ

#22 Aug 20, 2011
[It is a tragic story I'll never forget, Everyone lost. Maybe the lessons are that we don't forget what happened.
Stunned

United States

#23 Aug 21, 2011
Thehermit wrote:
[It is a tragic story I'll never forget, Everyone lost. Maybe the lessons are that we don't forget what happened.
Everyone lost? No, the victims lost. The pedophile perp did everyone a favor when He offed himself. Keep things real.
Robby M

United States

#24 Mar 4, 2012
I knew just about all of the major adults in the saga. Although I was never in his class, my sister was, and I was involved in the high school and larger Collinsville community. I knew Don Weber pretty well, and Jack Renfro was a very good close friend. Dick Van Hook was a close friend of my family.
Much of what has been said over the years is true. Don was zealous in his pursuit of justice. Dick was too cool for the allegations to have been true. Jack and the rest of the administration were shameful in turning a blind eye to the allegations.
Given all of the evidence, I have zero doubt about Dick's guilt. He was a very sick man who hurt many, many lives. As someone who was also abused (not by Van Hook), I know what that does to a child. I am thankful that Don sought and got whatever small justice was available to the victims. I hope their lives have all turned out well. I am also very sorry for what the Van Hook family endured. I hope they, too, have found peace in the intervening years.
Van Hook victim

Norristown, PA

#25 Sep 17, 2012
The story is true! I grew up in Collinsville. My mother was a teacher at Collinsville High, a school I never attended. I did belong to Gaslight, and that's where he use to fondle and kiss me. He would cradle me in his arms like a baby, and take me under the water to kiss me and (excuse my french) finger me. I have memories of being in a car in the parking lot where I believe he had intercourse with me...I was eight,nine, or ten when this happened to me. It was not until my late twenties when I read Don Weber's book and saw the man's picture that I could put a name to the face that had haunted me for years. I instantly knew that he was the man that had been in my flashbacks( I have very little memory before the age of twelve...PTSD ...probably in great part thanks to him!). When I saw him there was no mistaking him. I doubt he knew that I was the daughter of one of his fellow teachers, and I really don't care. He fu...d my life up for years....so to the people that want to stand up for the man who clearly killed himself because he couldn't face the music: keep being naive and believing that he would have,could have, never done such things....he did em! Thanks Don Weber for writng this book!
Disgusted

United States

#26 Oct 22, 2012
I just finished the book "Secret Lessons". I am shocked that so many years later, there are those in that town that are still in denial. I had never read anything so disgusting and vile. These poor little girls were victimized over and over again. What could possibly have been their agenda for putting themselves through that trial. Anyone who has the gall to defend that man must have their own sick skeletons in their own closet. If any of the victims read this page, I just want to say how proud I am that you came forward. I hope this case haunts the teachers, school board members and other filthy people who backed that horrible monster.
Confederate rebel

Collinsville, IL

#27 Oct 24, 2012
Mary Beth wrote:
Does anyone know if his son's first name is Ryan? Just curious.
Robbie is his sons name, Claire was his daughter. His wife was an RN
Confederate rebel

Saint Louis, MO

#28 Oct 28, 2012
Cville wrote:
His son's name was Robert and his daughter's name was Claire. Not sure what they are now.
Robert lives in Chicago, Claire now lives in highland and has been divorced twice, his widow moved back to collinsville. A little searching around will reveal all sorts of things if one is inclined.
Local Yokel

Granite City, IL

#29 Nov 1, 2012
I read "Secret Lessons". Some of the descriptions of Van Hook (nice looking, charming, personable) were the EXACT SAME descriptions of Ted Bundy. Not surprising, as both were sociopaths, and relied on their abilities to appear "normal", so as to fit in with society's expectations.

No one wants to believe they know a sex offender, especially when the accused is someone that is considered a friend. I believe some of the denial about what happened in the Van Hook case is due to subconscious guilt. It is almost purely emotional: "If Van Hook was guilty, then I failed my child, I failed my community, by not seeing the signs, and stopping him. If he was NOT guilty, then I can decry his innocence." Reprehensible behavior nonetheless, considering the ages of his victims.

The clincher for me was his suicide. If you are TRULY innocent, you NEVER stop fighting. Organizations like The Innocence Project prove this. Suicide before sentencing means giving up completely on proving one's innocence.

I wonder how this case would have turned out if it had happened in 2003 instead of 1983.
Tfowler

Lawrenceville, GA

#30 Jun 8, 2013
I just finished reading the book, and my stomach still hurts over how such innocent little girls were abused and treated by such a monster and such cruel teachers. I am so sorry it happened, and am so proud of your courage and strength. If any of you read this, you are heros to me...
Amers

United States

#31 Aug 30, 2013
My mother and father went to school with Richard and his wife sandy and they were my god parents and we spent alot of time together as families and nothing every happened while I was there... I remember getting the phone call the night he took his own life I was in I think 4 or 5th grade Claire and I were the same age...
Beth

Saint Louis, MO

#32 Aug 30, 2013
Is he related to that nut in Caseyville ?
kjc

Tulsa, OK

#33 Jan 31, 2014
I think those of us who missed any signs were because we had outgrown his demographic. I had him in night school and he was pretty full of himself. Arrogant at times. But let me tell you as a willing participant on occasion, more than a couple of the male teachers back in the day, drank, partied (weed) and slept with students. We called them the Dirty Dozen for a reason but we were frequently invited over to 2 or 3 of the single one's homes. After I grew up, I couldn't imagine what I would do to an adult sleeping with my 16 yr old kid. All our friend's knew it as well. Not a word was said.
LifetimeKahok

Springfield, IL

#34 Feb 2, 2014
Well, this is happening again in Collinsville and the reactions of the adults are the same. This is a serious problem at CHS with adult males going after girls and no one wants to do anything about it. Ron Rowden just committed suicide after being investigated for abuse of a student. He has been doing this for years and everyone knew it and did nothing. It is also happening with other teachers at the high school and they know it and aren't doing anything. A few years ago it happened with a girls basketball coach and instead of charging him and exposing him the police let him off and the school board, behind closed doors, accepted his resignation and he got another job teaching in another district. The cops closed the investigation the day he killed himself? Why would they do that? Why wouldn't they look for other victims? Then a cop comments on an article defending this coach. This cop had him as a coach in high school. He should be fired.

When this happened with Van Hook I was in Junior High and one of my teachers told us who one of the victims was and said she lied. Nobody would have anything to do with this girl and bullied her and teased her. She was totally shunned. Why the hell would a teacher tell us that?

It's not just the schools, teachers, coaches, board sweeping things under the rugs. It is parents and the cops, too. The cops knew about this girls basketball coach a few years ago and swept it under the rug.

Collinsville is a very, very sick place when it comes to child sex abuse. Not a safe place to send kids to school, not a safe place, period. People should have learned that from the Van Hook case. They defend and protect pedophiles.
john

Montgomery, AL

#35 Feb 25, 2014
my sister had him as a teacher. she said she heard the rumors but he never tried anything on her. Also i was working repairing school equipment and when Van Hook got put on leave they sent him to my building. everything seemed normal. he even made a wood carving for me. not sure if he was really guilty or just tired of the condemnation, but it's sad either way that your attitude leads you to suicide. I pray healing on those involved.
michelle b

Chicago, IL

#36 Oct 16, 2014
momof4 wrote:
Your welcome Mary Beth...i typoed in my last post i meant to say my one sister has and still is a very close friend to Richards sister....like i said i dont want to give out any more info due privacy and respect for his family. They had enough heartache in there lives. I do want to say though dont believe everything you read or hear. In my opion i think that Don Weber has a bit of a big ego and is out to make a name for himself.
If there is anyway to get in touch with his wife I would be more than grateful. I think I was the ONLY 12 year old girl that attended his wake/funeral but she welcomed me with open arms. I still have the 'letter''he left and ran across it recently
michelle b

Chicago, IL

#37 Oct 16, 2014
Amers wrote:
My mother and father went to school with Richard and his wife sandy and they were my god parents and we spent alot of time together as families and nothing every happened while I was there... I remember getting the phone call the night he took his own life I was in I think 4 or 5th grade Claire and I were the same age...
Are you still in contact with the family? I would love to see Sandy again, I was the only 12 year old girl at his wake/funeral but she welcomed me with open arms. I still have the 'letter' he left and just recently ran across it
LokahiPath

Wahiawa, HI

#38 Dec 28, 2014
Mary Beth wrote:
Anyone remember this case? Not trying to find out identities but was wondering how are his victims today? How about his kids, he had two - how did they turn out?
Dick Van Hook was a sexual predator. The thought of him still creeps me out. I know there are more victims, like me, that didn't find out about this case until afterwards. I would have come forward.
Ginger

Alton, IL

#39 Jun 1, 2016
Mary Beth wrote:
Anyone remember this case? Not trying to find out identities but was wondering how are his victims today? How about his kids, he had two - how did they turn out?
I had a class with him and knew three of Van Hooks victims. Two of them were in the same class I was. It was fairly common knowledge when we got to high school he had his way with his babysitters a regular basis. It was a shame it took so long for him to look justice in the face.
My heart goes out to wife and children that had to bear the burden of his guilt. I hope they changed their name and had great lives with loving families.
Idfwu

Centralia, IL

#40 Jun 1, 2016
Student of Life wrote:
Mr. Van Hook was my 8th grade teacher at NJHS. I don't think I'll ever believe he was guilty. I thought he was a wonderful person. I will always regret not contacting his attorney to be a character witness on his behalf b/c Mr. Van Hook would drive me home after school and there was never anything inappropriate. For those naysayers, has anyone read "The Crucible."
Maybe you were an ugly little bitch.

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