Dale Hansen Speaks Out on Being the Victim of a Childhood Sexual Assault

It takes courage to do what WFAA’s Dale Hansen did on the air last night. Jump to the 3-minute mark of the video, past the cheesy Oak Ridge Boys song. The longtime sports anchor talks about the time a 16-year-old boy assaulted him, and about his silence until now.

If he had stolen my bike… the glove on the handlebar… the dollar in my pocket… or simply punched me in the face and blackened an eye.. I would have told everybody.

Instead, I told nobody.


  • Charlotte Medley

    Thank you, Dale, for the courage it took to make known your personal experience with a childhood sexual assault. I was glued to your honest, gripping account, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. I have been more and more angered about the Penn State incident and believe that much too little was done to stop the activity. Having taught high school in Dallas, between 1999-2005, I took seriously my role as a teacher to protect my students. On occasion when details were made known to me that endangered a student, I went to the proper authorities; my moral conscience would allow nothing less. Dale, countless viewers listen to your sports journalism and have for many years. Hopefully last night’s will remain with them a lifetime.

  • Brenda Marks

    I happened to be watching last night and admittedly was stunned. His was a brave and eloquent essay and it was obvious that he was reliving the experience as he was recounting it. The level of emotion on his face was palpable. This was a courageous moment and I hope a message that will resonate far beyond the viewership of WFAA.

  • Sue Hopkins

    Thank you Dale hansen for speaking out about your assault. It took courage and it will help millions of people to realize that they are not at fault and there is no shame about being the victime of a crime.The word hero is overused today, however you are my hero today!!!

  • Liz Landry

    That segment was very moving and presented a needed outlook to this whole Penn State scandal: the children. They aren’t just playthings for Sandusky or tools for the prosecution, instead they are boys who will one day be men who will forever be changed by the events that happened to them, and then by the role models in their life who abandoned them or ignored them. You can watch Dale Hansen talk about what happened to him 53 years ago and see that it still affects him today, that the memories and the guilt and the struggle is still present. I understand his pain and in all truth, I had to stop reading coverage of the Penn State stuff because it was giving me PTSD flashbacks and nightmares. I hope that the after effects of Dale’s poignant segment is that parents have difficult and needed conversations with their children, or that someone realizes it is their business to protect a child, or a child knows he or she isn’t alone and finds a friend to confide in and stop the pain.

  • cbs

    One of the most stunningly poignant moments I have ever witnessed on TV. Dale takes (and deserves) his share of grief over a number of issues, but openly sharing this issue with the public was brave and showed a genuine caring for others. It is horrible that such action exists and that Dale experienced it first hand, but Dale is right to suggest it is more tragic that those that experience this are even further traumatized by societal pressure not to discuss. Kudos Mr. Hansen.

  • Rocco

    Yes, Dale was in fine form last night, and I hate to be the naysayer here (because I swear Dale is my favorite news personality in Dallas, I promise), but why does Dale always seem to leave his dirty laundry for “Thank God for Kids” each year? Isn’t it supposed to be an uplifting, sentimental reminder of how great kids are?

    Every year that song, and ancient video comes to a close and Dale goes into a revelation about how his kids hate him because he wasn’t the parent he should have been, his kids don’t talk to him anymore, this, that and now we find out that he was a victim of an attack as a kid…

    Dale is right, sexual assault of children does need to be talked about and reviled for the evil it is, but excuse me if I’m a touch put off by his waiting to discuss it for his annual, “Look behind the curtain, I’m a really vulnerable guy” bit. Wouldn’t have all of this been far more meaningful, and less of a downer, if he’d done this as one of his “Unplugged” (no pun intended) segments when the whole Penn State thing was taking place?

    Maybe I’m being a Grinch, maybe Dale is sincere and his intention to reveal this about himself is pure and without a hint of selfish promotion. If so, I apologize, but it seems to happen almost every year with this video.

    I wish once, after the song/video was over I could just complain about updating the video – interspersing it with something from this century and not have a confession of Dale’s personal failings or, now, “sexual assault”.

    In other words, I’d like it to actually be about kids and not Dale.

    There, I said it.

  • Grateful mom

    @ Rocco – because you said it, now be a man and take this: you are a self centered idiotic troll and part of the problem – sorry that your little bubble was burst because a prominent sportscaster chose to use valuable air time to talk about a serious topic that all of us need to listen to and do something about. Thousands of people in DFW tune in at this time of the year specifically for his segment. He chose to use that opportunity to raise this topic in a personal way so that more viewers would take pause and hopefully intervene to help a child who might be in need. So do us all a favor crawl back into the dark hole where you came from where you can be a happy troll and no one will bring you down again.

  • Rocco

    Fair enough Grateful Mom.

    I was only saying what I was thinking… I am allowed my opinion, too, please.

    I’m honestly not trying to disparage the cause, go back and re-read what I said.

    Just questioning why a segment that is promoted on Channel 8 for two weeks by Dale and Co as “special” and “heartwarming” always ends up with Dale’s personal stuff that, for me, ruins it. It could have been about his drinking, parenting skills or weight issues – again it’s not the cause I’m “trolling” over – its Dale talking about himself again.

    I’m not trolling. I wasn’t hoping to piss you off, and get you to name call.. I’m expressing my honest, thought out, opinion.

    Your explanation on the timing is a good and fair one. Maybe if he hadn’t followed up on previous airings of the video with his personal dirty laundry so many times it wouldn’t have bothered me as much.

    Merry Christmas.

  • Wow, what an enlightened comment from “Grateful Mom.” Cheap name-calling instead of a reasonably civil response. I don’t entirely agree with Rocco, but I do think he made some valid and well-stated points that deserve more than a load of vitriol.

  • Rania

    That was an amazing and courageous thing Dale did. It is time we stand up and start bringing light to this awful crime. So many children really do go unheard, and are so ashamed to ever admit it. Why should the child be ashamed when it is the criminal who should be stoned? It is like women who get raped, and are ashamed to talk about it because they live in fear. We only have ourselves to blame. We have created a society where we care more about two grown men or women’s consensual sexual orientation, and have hid the true crime, sexual harassment of children. And not only children, of grown women. Politicians, religious organizations, and even everyday citizens have spent so many useless hours, and so much energy into creating a world of hate against gay and lesbian couples, when in reality, the true problem is the sick people out there raping and harassing innocent victims, THAT IS WHO WE SHOULD CRITICIZE, STONE, and HATE. Done.

  • Lorene

    Dale, thank you, thank you, thank you! The bravery you showed in front of so many people touched my heart! I do not care when you decided to share your story, the fact that you shared it is enough for me! God does have a special place in Hell for anyone that violates a child, and it is about time this country stopped turning a deaf ear to this crime!

  • Melissa

    Perfectly stated, Ed. @Rocco you raise some interesting questions.

  • Gary

    Of course someone was going to say this was just another self-promotion from Dale. This cynical response is disappointing, but there are those who look for dark ulterior motives to everything, even while acknowledging the courage it took for Dale to do this. It’s why he’s been the best in this area forever, why his editorials matter when others’ rarely do. To think he said this because, in part, he’s got a huge ego, all about him, is disappointing. This is the most important editorial he’s ever had, and he used the time when the most people would be listening. For that I’m glad.

    I won’t email this to some of my friends, because they’re like Rocco – they’re contrarians who’ll search for a reason to complain. If this was really you, Ed Bark, I’m disappointed. You know Dale better than any of us, which makes your perspective different. Instead of thinking of who might be helped by listening to this, you think of the bombastic Dale you’ve covered for years. You’re better than to allow that. You’ve dropped a notch to me.

  • jr

    I missed the broadcast but really do like it when Dale speaks about his faults. It makes him more human. It is true he talks about himself alot and sometimes that can take away from the story. I guess if you don’t like that change the channel.

  • Dale being Dale he put a different perspective on the issue. He made it our own by making it his own.

    It is too bad that some will miss the message because all they can see is Dale. But then, well, hell, those same people wouldn’t get the message unless they were ten and it was their pants down around their knees.

  • Yes, it was the real me. And my principal point was that people ought to be able to express themselves in a reasoned manner without being called a “self-centered idiotic troll,” etc. by the so-called “Grateful Mom.” Of course I hope people will be helped by Dale’s commentary. I think that goes without saying. Would it have had even more impact had he delivered it on a weeknight newscast during the time when the Penn State scandal broke? That’s debatable. But a typical weeknight newscast generally has more viewers than the 135,482 who watched Dale’s Sunday night commentary, according to Nielsen ratings data.

    Three years ago, Dale called out his own two grown kids in a very personal manner during the annual “Thank God for Kids” commentary. I think that’s where Rocco was coming from, and he shouldn’t be labeled a cretin for trying to carefully make his case.

  • sonny

    5 And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.
    6 If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.7 How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen–but how terrible for the one who causes them!

  • kerryokie

    Great job Dale!!!

    it takes a lot of courage to put it to the faces that will shun you for their own embarrassment to be saved

  • Rocco

    Yes Ed, that was my point, and thanks. (Miss your work in the DMN, btw).

    I’d actually stopped watching “Thank God for Kids” after Dale’s rant about his grown kids that year. It was just too much and weird. My wife wanted to watch it this last weekend.

    Again, my point isn’t against talking about child abuse.. it was Dale’s choice of time to do it, and his history of taking a segment that’s called, “Thank God for Kids” – not – “Thank God for Dale”.

    There is an article in the Observer blog that interviews Dale and certainly gives some backstory. Go read for yourself. It may or may not sway you on it.


  • Bethany

    I don’t think it matters when he spoke out or in which segment he spoke out but that he did speak out – isn’t that what matters? It is important for others to hear and see that they are not alone and that, unfortunately, abuse is widespread. Hopefully this encourages others to speak up and with any luck it will help to stop the abuse of a kid or two. I say good job Dale and hopefully his efforts to raise awareness won’t stop here.

  • Another mom who feels the need to defend

    Break it up, Ed, Rocco, Gary, Grateful Mom!! Everyone is actually saying the same thing, or close, but Rocco is adding on the point that he thinks Dale’s ego enters into it, which is actually a side issue. Maybe it does, probably it does, but that isn’t the point.

    Whatever his reason, Dale Hansen talked about something that needs to be talked about in a forum which holds an enormous audience. And he did it well. It was beautifully written and delivered, it made its point, and I believe wholeheartedly that it will end up impacting some child positively in a tangible way. Lots of people who “do it well” have an ego, but that doesn’t mean that what they say (or do) isn’t worth it. We don’t have to have lunch with the guy (or be his grown kid, thank God!), we just get to listen and take what works for us and leave the rest. Or go in to the other room when your wife wants to watch that self promoter Dale at Christmas. Totally your perogative.

    I, too, am a mother, and while “Grateful Mom” should not have lowered herself by using “troll” language (which she would probably tell her own kids in a less emotional moment), in my opinion she did so because when we imagine our own children being taken advantage of or hurt, it makes us a little crazy. I know this from personal experience. So she sort of went off on you, Rocco. But really it was because you took focus away from the true point and focused on whether or not Dale Hansen has a big ego, which isn’t nearly as important. But, to your credit, as Ed notes, you did it in an insightful way, and meant no harm. As I say to my kids (and myself) when I get swept away with passion/anger/whatever, it’s just better to breathe for ten full seconds and make sure I really mean to say what I say (or do).

  • I don’t know what happened to me, but I am just now learning about this. Yea for Dale Hansen for having the courage to speak out about a topic that is so difficult to talk about. It so happens that I recently started a blog for people who have been sexually abused. Anyone who can benefit from it can check it out at: http://www.ANewPlacetoStand.wordpress.com.