Saturday, June 23, 2012


I don't think anyone was really surprised by the verdict for Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 counts of child sex abuse. Over the years he pretty much had his way with several kids, using and abusing them. The proverbial chickens have come home to the proverbial roost.

My question would be, why did it take so long to find this guy out? Well, it really didn't, because some people knew years ago. They just didn't say anything. They are complicit because of their silence. You cannot let a person who has sex with children off the hook because they'll just go victimize someone else. Maybe your child.

Another question is, why did he fight it when everything was so overwhelmingly against him? He had ten accusers who are now adults, who sat in court and told their sordid stories. Did he think there was a chance a jury would find him not guilty and send him on his way to take up his life again? His defense team did the best they could, but evidence against him was overwhelming. Even his stepson was in the wings waiting to testify against him. He wasn't needed.

On the NBC program Rock Center a reporter asked one of Sandusky's accusers (who testified against him to the Grand Jury but not in his criminal trial) if he thought Sandusky ever thought he would be caught. The young man said no. Which is another thing, why would Sandusky not worry about being caught, and after being caught, have his worst nightmares come true, a jury trial, disgrace for himself and his family, and the chance he'd spend the rest of his life in prison? Did he think that far ahead, or was he really that stupid (or in denial) to think he'd never be caught?

This is all after one of the worst stories of child sex abuse in U.S. history: scandals of the Catholic Church, priests abusing children. The stories made headlines for years. Did Jerry Sandusky sit up at night sweating, thinking "this could happen to me"?

I don't begin to understand adults who want to have sex with children, or what satisfaction it gives them. I believe it's about power over someone weaker and more vulnerable. The stories of abuse usually include threats made by the abuser to his victim: "No one will believe you," or in some extreme cases, "If you don't do it I'll hurt your family." Obviously they're not trying to get love, just sex and control.

Pedophiles follow some patterns, grooming their victims, and Jerry Sandusky did all of those things that child sex abusers do. He made out that he was helping the child, he made the child's family trust him with the child. He took his time getting around to the evil stuff, and when he did, the poor kid was totally in his power.

I don't think there is an organization, no matter how altruistic or benevolent in its desire to guide or help children that hasn't been tainted at one time or another by one of these clever guys. My former boss, who was a scoutmaster his whole adult life, told me it's a problem within scouting. But it is also a big problem with church groups, schools, or anywhere that adults have access to kids. Many people are just naƮve and don't know it's going on, even under their noses. My hope is that now that stories about the Catholic Church and a high profile story like that of Jerry Sandusky have been splashed all over the news that someone who would have otherwise been oblivious will now see the signs.

The problems that existed within the Catholic Church, moving priests who molested children from parish to parish, also exist in school districts, and it's because of liability laws. A few years ago there was a scandal (actually, one of many, but I'll use this as an example) with the school district where I worked. A middle school teacher was caught with a student and not only fired, but turned over for prosecution. I talked to the HR Director who told me why he'd been hired. He said that school districts worry about lawsuits. This teacher had worked for another school district, and was suspected of sexual misbehavior but they couldn't prove it. So they found another reason to let him go. When he applied at our district and HR called them for a reference they couldn't tell us what they suspected. Had they told us what they knew of his behavior and their suspicions our district would never have hired him. If he found out his old employer had told our HR of their suspicions he could have sued them. Years before that, in the late 1970s, the first time I heard of anyone being arrested for child sex abuse was when a teacher was arrested in the school. A 14-year-old boy told authorities the teacher had been having sex with him since the boy was 11. At the time many people were totally in the dark about the problem. One of the school secretaries told me, "I thought Mr. O was just being a nice guy, picking the boy up, bringing him to school and taking him home!" The victim, being raised by a single mom, was a latchkey child, and Mr. O found him an easy mark.

BUT KIDS GROW UP. And then they tell their stories. There might have been a time when adults did not believe a child telling such tales of an adult, but not anymore. Nowadays a teacher who abuses an 11-year-old will know that someday that kid will grow up and tell someone what the abuser did. So why do it? Why take the chance? I guess it's like Sandusky's victim said, he didn't think Sandusky believed he would ever be caught. Maybe it's that way with other child abusers, too. Or perhaps they convince themselves the child likes it, even that they're doing the kid some kind of favor by giving them attention they may not be getting from other adults.

There will always be Jerry Sanduskys in this world. What people need to do is learn what to look for if someone shows an interest, any kind of interest in your child that you think is above and beyond their duty to the child. What I found in my time working around children is that it is rare to have someone with ulterior motives. But like other destructive vermin, they can do a lot of damage before they are stopped.

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