Sleepovers With Uncle Jeff

The cardiologist traded on his status as a doctor to fondle young girls

"I didn't know what to do," she says. "I was so scared, and I wanted to stick up for [them] then. And I'm feeling a lot of guilt because I didn't."

Like Randee, Ashlyn had turned to self-mutilation. For the last two years of Klem's touching, she'd cut herself with a bobby pin or a nail. She has no clue why she did it. But through tears, she takes a guess.

"It's like it wasn't me," she says. "It wasn't me, it was all the anger held up in me, because I didn't say anything and I needed to, I know I needed to do. And I ignored it because I wanted to make them [Beth, Buck and Patsy] happy...I loved them and I didn't want to hurt them. And I wanted to be mad at myself because I was close to Beth and I let it happen. I trusted her and...she was there almost every time and she could've seen it."

Don't worry — Dr. Klem is not a registered sex offender.
Courtesy Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
Don't worry — Dr. Klem is not a registered sex offender.
Jeff and Beth Klem were a model couple at New Life Tabernacle.
Jeff and Beth Klem were a model couple at New Life Tabernacle.

In the end, she lost Beth anyway. And Paw-Paw. And Sweetie.

She lost her church family, too. People who she considered friends, but chose to believe she and her sisters were liars and whores.

"It's just like hit after hit after hit. You're just like, 'You know what? I'd just rather lay here and let it all hit me. Just lay here. I don't feel like fighting it.'"

So right now, Ashlyn's lying there. College is on hold. She had wanted to be a dental hygienist. But college is the furthest thing from her mind because, as she says, "I'm so screwed up in the head right now."

If Ashlyn didn't bite her tongue during the plea bargain discussions, if any lawyers had asked her how she felt, she could have told them. The words would have been choppy, garbled by tears, dripping with anger, like she was slashing herself with that nail deeper than ever before.

"This is a freakin' joke. It's taken as a freakin' joke now because, you know, our system's not doing anything. The doctor's, you know, getting to work and he's happy and he's smiling....Yeah, if that's how it is, this sucks. It sucks, and I don't have any respect for it. [Klem] should be put up somewhere. He's not a good person. He needs somebody to do that to him. He needs to live with the guilt and he needs to go somewhere where he can be, you know, hurt for seven years. He needs to be molested for seven years. By somebody bigger than him. And then he'll know."

craig.malisow@houstonpress.com

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