Loudoun supervisors on Thursday recognized the man who turned sexual abuse in his childhood into protection for children decades later.
Rob Buswell was molested by a tee-ball coach as a child, and like many victims, never talked about it—until his own children reached the age he was when he was abused.
“If I can turn the scars from my youth into something that helps someone else out, great,” Buswell said. “If, selfishly, I can turn my decades of shame into something that leaves a positive legacy for future generations of Virginians, sign me up.”
The positive legacy takes the form of rules that placed more sex offenders on the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry and prevents child molesters from using child-oriented license plates, such as the Kids First license plate. The first rule resulted in 5,604 names being added to the sex offender registry.
Buswell’s molester almost slipped through the cracks. Virginia’s sex offender registry began in 1994, but Buswell was abused by a known predator in 1978. It wasn’t until 2007 that he opened up about his case to Prince Williams County Detective Heather Darling.
“If you had told me in 2007, when I first came forward, that we would be standing here, I would have probably wanted to crawl under a rock,” Buswell said at a ceremony at the Board of Supervisors. “All I wanted to do was unload a burden that I had carried since I was a small boy.”
With Darling’s help and understanding, Buswell saw his molester arrested. Then, he pushed to have the sex offender registry changed to include offenses from before 1994.
Despite the legislation named after him, Buswell refuses to let his tragic past define him.
“Yes, I was abused, and it was horrible, but there’s much more to me than that,” Buswell said. “I’m a father, a business owner, and a productive member of society.”
He also said remaining silent is cooperating with predators, but that victims face a painful catch-22.
“One, the pain and suffering they endured causes them to outwardly project a train wreck, so we’re not considered reliable by society, or two, we stuff ourselves in a suit and tie and outwardly project confidence, but inside we’re a train wreck,” Buswell said.
Buswell’s remarks also took a political turn. He used the opportunity to speak out against recent orders by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) restoring rights for felons who have served their time in jail. He said allowing his abuser to sit on a jury once he has served his time would be “revictimizing the victim.”
“The predator is not the victim,” Buswell said. “These restorations of rights should be treated like a cancer surgery and done with a scalpel.”