Sandusky tells NBC’s Bob Costas, “I love to be around them, but no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys. I love young people.” However, Sandusky admitted that he showered with, hugged and touched the children, but in a non –sexual manner? Costas: “Are you a pedophile?” Sandusky: “No. I probably shouldn’t have showered with the boys.” That seemed to be his only regret. We’ve all heard the interview, and most likely more than one time.
It is traumatic and disturbing when sexual offenses, committed by anyone, especially those in positions of power and trust, become a part of our reality. As a Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider, I work daily with sexual offenders and victims, and yet I truly grieve for the victims and families in the wake of this Penn. State scandal. Numerous individuals were disconnected from reality in this case, and connected in a conspiracy to keep this child sex abuse scandal a secret. I wouldn’t have believed it, but after reading the Grand Jury report, and viewing the Sandusky interview with Bob Costas, which may go down as his last recorded words, I see a disturbing story of rape and misuse of power.
The nation listened, in a collective pause, to hear anything that might be “his” truth. THE truth! We received no answer. I heard absolute denial, no admission of guilt, no clarity of thought, no apology, and perhaps no soul. For me, he seems to possess little understanding of anything he’s done. I heard a feeble, dead with denial, voice. It was very unsettling and left me feeling like I was listening to John Wayne Gacey answer for his deeds, in a John Wayne body and voice. How does this happen? A beloved, elderly coach, in the heart of middle-America, responded in an interview , and as Costas said, “If you were unfamiliar with the name Sandusky, sadly he will now be remembered as a criminal, and a monster.” We’re not speaking of a 23 yr old, or a 43 yr old, but an older individual that through many years has perpetrated horrific acts on innocent victims; which include those that caught him, saw it happen, heard it, did report it, didn’t report it. Who advised him to participate in this interview? Was he medicated, and is he on suicide watch? All of these questions were all over the morning news programs; it’s the lead in every show.
Here are some major points that the general public needs to know:
Epidemiological research notes that 1% to 3% of men are sexually attracted to children. Men who molest children rationalize their actions, often to a point of denial. We all listened to that first hand, when we as a nation held a cumulative breath, waiting for his answer, he denied it all. Sadly, many offenders, I’ve worked with, characterized the relationship as a “mentoring” relationship: “Second Mile Gone Wild.” If you listen to the interview, you can hear all of this in the thread of the interview.
Pedophiles do not fit neatly into “creepy” profiles. They can fill any role in society, particularly a leadership role with children. We have seen similar stories with the Catholic Church, The Boy Scouts of America, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Orphanage staff and the like.
Approximately 70% of the victims, in child sex abuse cases, know the offender. Serial child molesters seek vulnerable children and employ means to cultivate relationships with them. Children usually are not picked at random. They are screened by systematic desensitization techniques (many are detailed in the Grand Jury report). Because of Penn State’s credibility, parents were willing to allow staff to have unrestricted access to their kids.
What might happen now?
Sandusky may be near the point of suicide. When listening to his interview, I heard “dead with denial”, possibly nothing to live for. He has legal representation, but the collective of the testimony that will mount against him will certainly render a guilty verdict at some level. I have worked with many pedophilic felons that were “executives” prior to their conviction. This group is especially prone to suicidal ideation, intent, and plan at this stage of the legal process. Sandusky may be portrayed by the media as an older, “broken down” individual. He may play the “I was sexually abused as a child” defense which would be a useful strategy to keep punishment in a lower range.
Additionally, I wonder if there was ever any child pornography viewed on Penn State computers or any computer of Sandusky’s. Moreover, the boy that was at the Alamo Bowl, in San Antonio, might itself result in a separate criminal investigation. Transporting a child across state lines for the purpose of sexual exploitation may be something to examine further. These possibilities could result in a federal investigation. A federal sex offense case almost assures a conviction and prison time.
Child Witnesses Recant?
This was brought up in the interview loosely. When there are multiple solid testimonies, it is very difficult to recant. Unlike the McMartin Day Care case, these victims are independent cases with no other proximal ties, thus maximizing the credibility of the testimony. Again, the number of boys involved here will likely make recanting a non-issue.
Happy Valley to Neverland…
I hesitate to reference Michael Jackson’s Neverland, especially in lieu of the recent trial that’s coming to an end. The names “Neverland” and “Happy Valley” feel almost eerie to say, especially now in light of this scandal, not to mention the title of his book, “Touch”. It is now a place where deep dark secrets are kept, where Gerald Sandusky was allowed to prey on innocent kids, at everyone’s expense. It is a place where innocent lives were tarnished and forever changed. There are no winners here.
Did you know…
Sandusky started “The Second Mile” in State College, Pennsylvania, in 1977. It began as a group foster home for helping troubled boys. Through “The Second Mile”, he had access to hundreds of boys, many of whom were vulnerable, due to their social situations. He took total advantage of his position, and no one cared. Sandusky retired from “The Second Mile” in 2010.
Clinical information regarding the “mind of a perpetrator”:
The term is used to classify sex offending behavior that begins with flirting. Efforts, no doubt, were made to get the victim interested in Sandusky. In his case, that might’ve involved gifts, attention, followed by light touch, which progressed to more touch. All of these elements come together to get the victim to comply, and create the perfect storm. Sadly, threats and intimidation may also be used to achieve compliance, all at the victim’s expense. The next step… the offense cycle begins: thoughts, fantasies, and all things leading to the deviant act. Needy children are the perfect target for abuse.
Clinically speaking, after acting out, the perpetrator might feel positive, happy, negative, unhappy, or some of both. Feelings and arousal can keep the offense cycle going, indefinitely. Some offenders that experience satisfaction, go right back to the acting out stage. Feeling guilty or upset could even lead to reoffending, very similar to having a hangover, but drinking more to feel better. I’ll spare you the rest of the hard-core details. It’s not an easy read, nor easy to write. It is particularly difficult to address, and sadly for that reason perhaps it wasn’t.
That’s it for now folks. We watch and we wait.
Bruce Cameron, M.S., LPC-S, LSOTP is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider in the Dallas Fort Worth area. He has worked with adult and juvenile Sexual Offenders since 1990 in a variety of state, federal and other institutional capacities. Website: www.cameronlpc.com