Editor's note: Final in a weeklong series
By RICHARD DYMOND
MANATEE -- Recent Rowlett Magnet Elementary School graduate Andrew Wischer, the only child of James and Olwin Wischer, is a bright young man who aspires to be either an artist, writer or football star, but he can't decide which.
But there is one thing that Andrew Wischer does know with certainty and is not afraid to reveal.
"My dad loves me and
will never stop loving me," the 11-year-old says.
How many children will openly utter a statement like that, with the confidence of its veracity as if they were describing the color of the sky?
James Wischer, 48, made sure Andrew would know how much he loved him. It was Job One for him, Wischer says. That's because James Wischer's biological father left his family when James was about 4, and the man who would become his stepfather sexually abused him and his siblings for years.
"I had no father," James Wischer explained. "But my son will have a very different story, maybe to a fault. I spoil him a bit. My son knows he is loved and takes a little advantage of it. But that's OK.
"My son will tell you that I love him and will love him forever," he added. "I don't hear that much from boys. I wish I heard it more. I don't want my son to ever disconnect from me because I wasn't there for him."
Wischer, who is better known in Manatee County as Detective James Wischer of the Child Protection Investigative Division of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, was selected as a Bradenton Marauders All-Star Among Us for his first responder work trying to protect local children from the kind of abuse he suffered.
Wischer will receive $500 from the Marauders and $500 toward the charity of his choice, which is Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch. He will be honored today at the Florida State League All-Star Game.
Perhaps the way he loves his son and wife and how his family loves him back would be enough to make Wischer an All-Star just as a dad and husband, said Capt. Todd Shear of the sheriff's office, who nominated Wischer.
"James is a very compassionate person," Shear said. "He's very focused, particularly for those victims on whose cases he is investigating. He is also a family man and spends a lot of time with his wife, Olwin, and son, Andrew. James also has gone on missions to Africa where he puts his Christian faith into action."
Wischer wrote about his history in a book titled, "The Boy Who Never Cried Wolf." He subtitled the book, "By grace he survived 10 years with a child predator. By providence, he now hunts them."
"It started in Cincinnati, Ohio," Wischer said of the abuse. "My mother was working for this man. When dad left us, this man invited us into his home in Cincinnati."
The man, Dave Turner, later moved the family to southern Mississippi, in the small town of Kiln.
"He was a morally indiscriminate situational child molester," said Wischer, who can now draw on technical terminology to describe the man who sexually abused him for 10 years. "He sexually abused all six of us kids in the house, of which some were his. We were terrified to tell anybody. You have to understand, as a 4-year-old, when someone tells you they are going to kill your mother if you say anything, you believe them.
"Now I know he was a coward. But the horrible threats kept us quiet. When we became teenagers we were no longer afraid, but then we were ashamed and embarrassed and still said nothing."
Not until Wischer was an adult police officer in his 40s did he decide to try to have Turner prosecuted. Before charges could be considered, however, Turner was killed in a fight at a poker game, Wischer said.
"He became a homicide victim before we could prosecute him," Wischer said.
Wischer's mother now lives in Manatee County.
"She feels horrible it went on so long," Wischer said. "In no way do I blame her."
Faced with a Christian duty to forgive, Wischer approached Turner 21 years ago and said he forgave him.
"You have to forgive or you are the one who remains in prison," Wischer said. "That doesn't mean you let them off the hook. I knew that it would continue to hurt me if I didn't."
When he told Turner to his face, "I forgive you," Wischer said he could feels walls crumbling.
"I didn't do it for him," Wischer said. "I wanted to look myself in the mirror and not see him, the same angry self-centered horrible person. I think the light bulb went on. I had to forgive. As soon as I did it, I could feel those prison doors wash off."
Anyone who is suffering abuse, knows someone who is or needs help dealing with it from the past is urged to call Wischer at 941-747-3011, ext. 1910.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @RichardDymond.