Loophole Prevented Mom From Learning Of Son’s Abuse

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A loophole in Minnesota law kept a mother from finding out about her son’s sexual abuse, and now his story could help bring about a change in that law.

Jacob Gould was molested as a young boy. The abuser was convicted, but Jacob’s mother had no idea until years later.

While playing video games at his home in Clara City, Jacob Gould seems the typical 12-year-old. But he has experienced enough pain to last a lifetime.

When he was 6, an 11-year-old molested him several times while Gould visited his father’s home in Cottonwood. He kept the secret from both parents.

“I was confused, because I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I was scared just because one time he said if I told anyone he’d slit my throat.”

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office was already investigating. Another boy had come forward with his own abuse accusations against that same 11-year-old.

During that time, two deputies took separate reports naming Gould as another victim of sexual assault. However, his mother didn’t find out until four years later. Furthermore, the news didn’t come from investigators.

Gould would be the one to tell his mother, Sarah Guggisberg, a G-rated version of the abuse.

“I love him. It’s my job to protect him, and I didn’t because I didn’t know,” said Guggisberg.

She reported the incident, but found out investigators had already talked to Gould’s father back in 2005. As the primary caregiver, Guggisberg says she should have been notified. But Minnesota law does not state that both parents need to be told of abuse.

“I’m disappointed with the ways the laws are written that don’t mandate they call me,” said Guggisberg.

She says she still hadn’t heard the full extent of the abuse, and wouldn’t until April of this year when Gould tried to take his own life.

“I tried taking pills. I tried hanging myself over a bed thing,” said Gould.

“He couldn’t handle it. It was too much for his little brain to handle,” said Guggisberg.

The whole family is now in therapy, but some of the healing happens at home. Through Facebook, they are pushing for a law requiring both parents be notified if abuse is reported, regardless of who has custody.

“I have friend requests every day,” said Guggisberg as she looked at a Jacob’s Law Facebook page. “This can’t be the first time something like this has happened. I refuse to believe that.”

Years after the abuse and Gould can see now that his pain has resulted in something good for others.

“It’s great they’re trying to help me and keep me going,” said Gould.

The family is working with Minnesota Rep. Bruce Vogel to introduce the law which, in addition to expanding notification requirements, would also provide services for victims of abuse.

Guggisberg is also trying to address this issue on a national level. She created a petition. If 25,000 people sign it by Nov. 7, the petition will be sent to the President.

To learn more on Gould’s story, there is also a Facebook page.

Jacob’s father said he was not aware of the extent of the abuse and would have pressed charges had he known.

More from Rachel Slavik
  • mel

    What a brave boy. Best of luck to him. He’ll be such a outstanding young man someday!

    • Callie's Mom

      I agree! I bet it took a lot of courage to finally speak out.

  • Callina

    It’s incredibly sad that she wasn’t notified. The family could have been in therapy years earlier!

    • Jerfit

      Don’t ask the government to intervene and fix poor communication and/or poor decision making by the father in this case. You can’t legislate everything. Sure she should have been notified, but asking for a law to change in this case is a bit silly. Be mad at the father, not the government.

      • Jacobs Law

        WOW…maybe you should research the story..they did not include all of the facts and details. maybe if you knew the rest of the story, you could give an educated opinion on this…you are the one who is ‘silly’.

      • Callina

        Nothing in my post specifically mentioned legislation, but I don’t think I’m against it in this case. The father SHOULD have said something, but don’t you think, with a divorce rate of 50%, that this kind of lack of communication might be more of a problem than we think it is?

        Not everyone is a good, responsible parent. That might be the reason for some of the divorces. This would simply be a law that would offer more protection to the kids who don’t have two perfect parents and who have experienced abuse.

  • Sarah Guggisberg

    Here is a direct link to the White House Petition

    Some people have been having issues getting to the site, Hope this helps:


  • grikdog

    They should not be putting that kid out there in the media. That is just plain bad judgment on the part of his mother.

    • Sarah Corder Guggisberg

      girkdog~ why not? what did he do wrong? he is not ashamed of what happen to him.. are you saying this because of the way people may see him? would it be acceptable if he was a victim of any other crime? but not sexual abuse? i think you see him in a shameful way and that is YOUR problem. people deal with sexual abuse differently. jacob is a voice for those who cannot speak. bad judgment? that is what you are doing right now. people like YOU are the reason so many stay silent..because of what YOU might thing of them.

    • Momma of 2

      grikdog –

      You are making yourself sound like a complete moron. You are completely wrong here. Why is it a bad idea to have him in the eye of the media? It’s not like anything worse could happen to him then already has.

      I would imagine this is a form of healing for both the victim and his mother. She is trying to make somthing good out of this horrible incident. You have your opinions and are entitled to them, but I’ve got to say I think a majority of people wouldn’t even think twice about their story becoming public as being “bad judgement.”

      My advise to you … Get over yourself!!!

  • Callina

    I’m sure she thought it out first, and talked it over with him, too. He’s been abused and faced suicide, and is getting help now. He’s a strong kid. He’s had to be. They are unselfishly doing this for others who may have this happen.

  • Momma of 2

    I commend Jacob for coming forth and taking a stand! It’s not a shameful thing and shouldn’t be treated as that. It’s almost 2012 and sexual abuse is still a taboo subject – what a shame! I believe because of people’s ignorance and not being informed is why this type of action still gets handled the way it does.

    I say WAY TO GO JACOB and SARAH!!!!! Don’t back down and don’t let uninformed people try to slow you down. Let them haters be your motivators!!!

  • Sue J

    What about the dad? He know and did not tell?

    • Sarah Corder Guggisberg

      Some people just do not understand the imact of sexual abuse. The father was not aware that serious sexual abuse allegations were at hand. He should have asked a few more questions and found out exactly what happened to his son..he did not. and neither did anyone else.

  • Jacobs Law

    New Petition…in light of the serious accusations at Penn State an NEW petition was started. We NEED 25,000 signatures in the next 30 days :)


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